She tacked it to the end of her story, like an apology. “I know I need to keep this all in perspective. It’s really not that bad.”
Not that bad. A lovely woman in my Bible study had just finished updating us on her home remodel horror story. After several months and thousands of dollars spent gutting and replacing every inch of her kitchen, a plumbing leak destroyed the whole thing and now it has to be entirely redone. She’s been living with deafening industrial dryers and packing her kids to stay at a hotel meanwhile.
A little stressful, maybe? Uh, yeah. But good Christian women are taught to have this “perspective” thing, which prevents us from fully acknowledging our heartache.
It comes out in phrases like this.
But things could’ve been much worse.
Other people have bigger problems than mine.
I know I’m blessed. So I shouldn’t complain.
Yes, yes that’s true. The Bible does say “do everything without complaining” (Philippians 2:14), so you have no right to do that.
But you do have a right to speak truth. And sometimes the truth is we feel frustrated, mad, disappointed, or hurt.
God made us emotional beings, did he not? He designed us to feel.
Of course I’m not saying “trust your feelings” because “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). In fact, we’re called not to indulge the heart but to guard it. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).
But how? How do we guard something that is by nature a wild beast?
We just have to give him the key.
That means opening our heart-gates wide to the Lord, allowing him into every nook and cranny so he can examine, console, heal and restore. This is not a process reserved just for the “big problems” in life. It’s a daily surrender.
And it requires vulnerable conversations with the Lord.
“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. . . . Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:6, 10).
God desires truth in the inner parts, the heart. Consider maybe he allows some trials in our lives not so we would “perspective” them away, but so we would acknowledge the truth of the hurt or frustration. So we would feel it deeply enough to bring it to him.
What if we looked at our trials—big or small—as an invitation from God. He wants to hear from us. Are you going to talk?
Oh, that’s right. There’s nothing to talk about. Because you’re fine. You’re blessed. No complaints here.
God deserves more than a surface relationship with us. So do our close friends and sisters in Christ. If we brush authentic heartache under the rug and convince ourselves we’re not really bothered because we’re not “supposed” to be, we have cheated God of his divine right to fellowship with us, and we’ve lost an opportunity to connect on a deeper level with fellow believers.
So your beautiful new kitchen just caved in? Your kids have been throwing up all week? Your stylist turned your hair pink? Dang, girl. Do the ugly cry if you have to. God can take it. Your friends will hand you tissues. And yes, you are blessed, and God knows you know it. You’re mighty grateful for all the things going right in your life. You should be.
Just don’t let your gratitude suppress your honesty. That’s not being holy. That’s called denial—which is really a fancy word for lying.
When my friend’s kitchen is restored and the stress of it all is a distant memory, I’m sure we’ll sit around her countertop laughing about it. But not yet. Right now is a chance to walk that strange line between blessings and trials, gratitude and grief. It’s a lifelong tug-of-war, really. The more we learn to embrace both the joy and the sorrow, the closer we’ll grow to the God who grants us both. And to know God, well—that is by far the greatest blessing of all.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).