My first two years of college were really, really hard. Just writing this now feels like old wounds are being torn open.
I spent all of my life being on top of the world, friends and life came easy. College was different.
I had a vision for what college would look like: I knew that I wanted to be in a sorority, and probably meet my fiancé, and everything would be great and easy like my social life always had been. But from the very beginning, things were different. Rush went terribly. I didn’t just get a bid that I didn’t like; I didn’t get a bid at all. It crushed me. And the rest of my life seemed to follow suite.
So I did the only thing that I knew to do: I hid my struggles, hid my hurt, and stayed busy. I threw myself into work, nannying five days a week, not letting myself dwell on what I was feeling- that I was alone. That I hadn’t made any new friends, that maybe I didn’t have friends at all. I was alone, left out of the fun that was being had around me.
Whether this was the reality or not is not the argument here. I know that it might have looked different from the outside. But I felt unbelievably alone.
Three years down the road, things look incredibly different now. I live in a house full of girls I love dearly. I spend my summers with the most incredible people I have ever met. People who know me well and love me well, better than I ever could have asked for. I feel known and acknowledged by those whose attention and friendship I felt like I had sought for so long. I don’t feel alone anymore. I feel known. And that’s how I felt all of my junior year, as if finally I had caught up with everyone else. I belonged.
For those first two years, I lived in silence about how I was feeling. I was terrified that someone would find me out. Someone would discover me for what I was- a fake, a loser, a misfit. There must be something wrong with me, because otherwise, people would be asking me to hang out. And they just weren’t. I didn’t have a group I belonged to, and I was terrified that there was a reason why.
I pretended I was okay.
Now, long after the fact, I’m tempted to fall into the same trap. To not talk about it. To not tell anyone what I really felt, or how sometimes I still feel- that I’m not known. Alone. And there’s still a risk that those things I knew must be inside of me somewhere, all of the things I am terrified are true about myself, may still be revealed.
I haven’t felt the power of these emotions and doubts pressing down on me for a long time. I feel them here and there, for a fleeting moment the enemy attacks, or I have a hard day or two. But by and far, the Lord has redeemed, blessing me with friendships, security in those friendships, and security in Him. He is a faithful and loving God, never abandoning His children, rejoicing in redemption. For as much as He has revealed Himself to me through heartbreak and hurt, He has shown His face to me in glorious and joy filled ways.
But through my struggles, there is one thing I have learned.
We cannot remain silent. The confession of our struggles leads us down roads to healing, and not just for ourselves, but for others. When I remain silent, I am reinforcing the very same lies being fed to others- that we are alone, that we are not loved, that we are not known, that we are not good enough. When our heartbreaks and our doubts, the lies we fall into, are not brought to light, are not given over to community and to the Lord, they grow and fester, eagerly anticipating our destruction. To fight back means to be vulnerable. To speak the truth. And these lies, no matter how loud, no matter how powerful, are not the truth.
There is a greater truth to listen to, a greater voice speaking into my heart. Telling me that I am loved, that I am truly and fully known, that my identity is not found in my friends, not found in my approval, but in Christ. My identity lies fully in my Creator and my Savior. And so does yours.
So here I am, years later, finally laying the broken parts of my heart at the feet of Jesus, broadcasting them for all to see, proclaiming His redemption, and begging that you, too, would feel the power of His healing grace. Begging that you, too, would pick up your cross and proclaim weakness and vulnerability in the presence of His all consuming love. You are not alone. Whatever lie you are facing, you are not alone, and it is time that we start speaking up.