Christians are so often dismissed of being "all just a bunch of hypocrites." This sweeping generalization used to describe an entire group of diverse people is stinging. But as it falls to me, I cannot deny it.
I am guilty.
The word hypocrite comes from a greek word that means Actor. Someone who is playing a part. Fulfilling a role. Pretending. I found myself to be guilty of this. Whether it's because I don't want to bother someone else with my problems or when it's painting a smile on my face when I want to scream at the Heavens.
Last summer I found myself in one of the deepest depressions of my life. For no real reason, which is the hard part. I struggled daily with my faith. I barely wanted to get out of bed. If I did pray it was one or two words, sometimes one sentence. I fought hard to keep my belief that there even was a God and that He cared.
If anyone asked me how I was doing, I would smile and say "fine." I pretended I had it all together. I acted. I was a hypocrite.
Even when I would go to church. A loving community that is supposed to help each other is times of crisis, I would just stand in the doorway. Silently watching, Listening. Hoping for hope.
The God I had loved and prayed to a thousand times felt like a trick of my imagination, a psychosomatic manifestation of my emotions. And if He wasn't real, what what the point of my life? Just a few decades, try to live comfortably and die? No one to remember I was even here?
Through this I would still pretend I was fine. Why? Because I didn't want to let anyone down...but mostly I didn't want the lectures. Didn't want to hear "Well, just cheer up, buddy!" Didn't want smiling faces to throw scriptures at me like "The joy of the Lord is your Strength, so just get over it." and "All things work together for good to those that love the Lord"
That never helps when someone is depressed. What helps is sitting with them, listening, mourning with those that mourn. Reminding them that sorrow may last for the night, but will come in the morning. That this too shall pass.
This too shall pass.
I've always retreated within myself when going through a hard time, because I don't want to burden anyone else. But that is hypocritical. That is pretending.
I did break out of that dark season, it was after reading the C.S. Lewis masterpiece Till We Have Faces. Where the main character denounces the cruelty of the "gods" for most of the book and then is shown that she was being prepared for something greater, something better. She was being given a face. Because we cannot stand face to face with the gods "till we have faces."
The beauty of those last twenty pages kept me awake through the night, and joy came in the morning.
I could have shortened that season, or at least made it less painful if I had been honest. Expressed a need for hope, for peace, for purpose.
If you are going through a hard time don't be a hypocrite. Find someone to do life with. Someone you can trust to be with through this hard season, remembering it is just a season.
If someone is going through a hard time and they express that to you, don't be glib. Or just throw scriptures at them. Never use these words: "well, clearly what you need to do is..."
Sit with them. Listen to them. Love them. Give them hope. Remind them them the sun will shine again.
The sun will shine again.