Many people find rest and renewal by taking a few days away from the regular routine and going to a far off destination. I did just that last week and it truly did feel good to “do something different somewhere else.”* I went to visit my dear friend that I have known and been close to since our college days.
We had a great time talking, relaxing, laughing, seeing the sights, shopping and eating. And the warm Arizona sunshine made it all the better! But as great as all these things were, I have to honestly say that the most restful and refreshing part of my time away with my friend was the opportunity to be real.
Like everyone else, I have a list of “shoulds.” External “shoulds” that come from society, my community, the media and specific people, most (but not all) of whom are considering my best interests. Internal “shoulds” that represent what I think I should believe, feel, desire, say and do, especially since I am a Christian.
My “shoulds” sometimes don’t match my reality and that causes some unrest in my life. In fact, the pressure to try to be what I “should” be can be exhausting. So, there is rest to be found in “getting real”with a friend who will:
I believe that being real promotes health and healing because it:
In fact, a recent study called The Science of Honesty found that a group of people who were instructed to “…speak honestly, truthfully, and sincerely—not only about the big things, but also about the small things…always mean what you say in situations where your statements are to be taken seriously…” had fewer physical health complaints than the group in the study who were not given these specific instructions. Similar studies have shown mental and relational benefits as well.
In many places in scripture, we are encouraged to be honest and real with each other (Ephesians 4:25), but I wonder if we sometimes forget that God wants us to be honest with Him as well. David is described as a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22), so it seems that God was not put off by how David found rest and hope as He got real with God as seen in the Psalms.
Vindicate me, my God, and plead my cause against an unfaithful nation.
Rescue me from those who are deceitful and wicked. You are God my stronghold.
Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?
Send me your light and your faithful care, let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.
Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Perhaps the writing in this Psalm seems hard to relate to in this day and age. For a modern-day glimpse of this kind of expression of getting real with God, take a look at an excerpt from the lyrics of a psalm writer from a more recent period of time:
…You who live in eternity hear the prayers of those of us who live in time;
We can't see what's ahead and we cannot get free from what we've left behind
I'm reeling from these voices that keep screamin' in my ears -
all these words of shame and doubt, blame and regret
I can't see how You're leading me unless You've led me here; to where I'm lost enough to let myself be led
And so You've been here all along, I guess; it's just Your ways and You are just plain hard to get
(Rich Mullins - Hard to Get- The Jesus Record, Word Entertainment, 1998)
When we “get real” with God, we open ourselves up to His comfort, counsel and correction because His stance towards us as His children is that of a loving, compassionate and merciful Father.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:13-14)
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)
When we “get real” with trusted friends, we experience the healing that comes from allowing ourselves to be ministered to by the godly insight, gifts and prayers of others.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)
“…confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16)
When was the last time that you allowed yourself to “get real” and express yourself authentically to God or to a good friend? A great way to start is to simply reflect on this question: “What is something about me that I keep under wraps because I fear that if I brought it to light and shared it with others, I might feel embarrassed or ashamed?” Maybe a secret future dream or desire? Maybe a secret past experience? Maybe a secret current thought, feeling or behavior?
I appreciate a good vacation as much as anyone else.
But nothing can come close to being more restful or valuable than having a relationship with God and good friends with whom I can “get real” without fear.
If you have been exhausted lately, then it is important to get some rest. Aside from adequate sleep, it may be wise to determine the kind of rest that you need. Maybe it is time to throw out the non-stop daily routine for a few days and “do something different somewhere else.”* Maybe it is time to re-examine the list of “shoulds” and “get real” before God and a good friend. Whichever it is, may the door of health and healing be opened for you!
*Jim Wann – Vacation - Pump Boys and Dinettes – Masterworks Broadway - 1988
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About the author:
Hello! My name is Ginger Hill and I am a Christ follower and a wellness professional. Over the years, I have personally and professionally seen the benefits of healthy living and I have also seen the hardships of struggling to practice good health habits in the midst of a busy and sometimes stressful life. I am passionate about helping myself and others to live a healthy lifestyle and I believe that good health is essential in helping us to do the good works that God has called us to do. Because I am a work in progress, I write these blog posts to encourage myself and I share them with others in the hope that they may be encouraged as well.
Psalm 92:12,14 (NLT)
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