I was sharing some of my troubles with a friend the other day, and when I realized what I was doing I apologized. “I am so sorry I used our time to complain about my life.” She replied as most of us would, “Not at all.” But then she followed that up with, “It actually makes me feel a little better in a weird way.” We talked more and came to the conclusion that it is comforting to know that you are not the only one who has a complicated life.
Years ago I heard a speaker at some women’s event (I’ve been to dozens over the years.) who said that for centuries women have gotten together to cook, or sew, or do laundry, or drink coffee, or go for walks. The speaker (I wish I could remember who it was) said that regardless of time or place, these women almost always have engaged in conversation that she called “trouble talks”. They have shared their burdens about marriage, children, work, finances, housing, etc. In these “trouble talks” women have found support, camaraderie, connection, community.
I am a verbal processor, so this is no shock to me. I talk through everything — with my husband, a coworker, a sister, my mother, a friend. But I think I have been missing the communal piece of this — the banding together of women.
Somewhere along the line I got the memo that in public gatherings with other women, I needed to present myself as flawless, above reproach, intentional, skilled — perfect. I’m certain my own insecurities fed into this lie that I believed, but it was also likely bolstered by my beliefs about being a leader, a teacher, a pastor’s wife. And it was probably fueled by our culture that seems to promote competition among women rather than community.
But over the last six months, as I have tasted sisterhood in a new way — through my Bible study battalion, through new friendships, through regular sharing, I am learning the blessings of being vulnerable and “bearing one another’s burdens.”
A couple weeks ago, in my Wednesday Bible study, one of the women shared a concern about her adult children. She painted a picture of the “trouble” she was experiencing. The women around our table listened, nodded in understanding, shared the woman’s sadness, offered suggestions, and prayed. I didn’t feel a shred of judgment in the room — just pure care.
I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that each of us in the group (each of us in any group) have our own “stuff”, our own “troubles”. Her sharing, her vulnerability, allows another in the group to share her “troubles” in an environment that is free of judgment.
Now, of course, I am not advocating that we each run to our respective groups and share every little detail of our lives. Many things are private, and should be. But it is healthy to foster the creation of safe spaces where we can come alongside people we trust, share our burdens, and have our load (at least temporarily) lightened. It’s not a sign of weakness to need others. It’s a sign of strength to recognize the need and to ask for support.
It’s all part of the turning that is resulting from what I am learning in this next chapter.
Bear each other’s burdens and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ.