My sister and I moved into an apartment months back and my sister, who is handy with pocket tools, set up all the furniture in our space. While she was building my bed, she missed a step but we would not find out until days later when we called a carpenter. The night before the carpenter came over, some of the bed’s wooden planks had fallen on the floor and so I woke up in the early hours of the morning trying to prop myself up from a sunken mattress. There was a new outdoor bench in what would eventually become the living room and so I sat there thinking of how to solve the problem. I did not want to “bother” my sister so I had planned to sit there until sunrise. Minutes into my spontaneous vigil, my mum called me out of the blue. She is a few hours ahead in Lagos so it did not occur to me to call her because I thought she would be fast asleep. She had woken up in the middle of the night and was about to go back to bed when Holy Spirit told her to call me. After a few questions about why I was sitting in the empty living room alone, she recommended a solution. She really is the most resourceful person in the world. She was not too pleased that I did not want to wake my sister up as to her, my sister losing a few minutes of sleep was nothing compared to me sitting on a bench the entire night. Now that I type it out, my reasoning makes little sense but I really did not want to bother my sister. “So if I didn’t call you, you would have been there all night? Nne speak up, speak up, learn to speak up.” I still hear her words often and try to apply them daily but it was not until I had a conversation with a friend months after, that I understood what was almost dangerous about what I had done.
Two months ago, my friend called me during a mental breakdown. I found out that she had been going through depressive episodes for months and had not opened up in depth to anyone. I know that God inspired her to reach out to me and I was very thankful. I cautiously tried to find out why she had kept her emotions to herself for so long and she explained that she feared being a burden. In other words, she did not want to “bother” anyone. I was thinking about the parallels between my very trivial situation and my friend’s dire one, and how our minds had convinced us that we would “bother” people who would have been more than willing to help us. When I told my sister why I didn’t wake her up, she looked even more confused than my mum. “Why would you think that?” That’s exactly what I wanted to ask my friend but then that would have been hypocritical of me. My friend and I did what most people do; we listened to the loud voices telling us that we were isolated with our problems and that nobody could help us.
Besides the fact that a problem half shared is a problem half solved, there is some kind of emotional freedom that comes with talking to a trusted friend or family member about those thoughts that keep us up at night. God has blessed us with people in our lives so that we do not bear burdens on our own. “I do not have friends,” “Nobody cares,” “I am alone.” If these lies have resided in your mind long enough that they now have some semblance of truth, I pray God uses this piece to remind you that He sees you. When you feel that no one cares, know that a feeling is not an irrefutable truth but a suggestion which you can overcome. “I am loved,” “People care about me,” “I am not alone.” Remind yourself of these assertions often because they are true. Lastly, there is neither rest nor reward in carrying heavy burdens alone so open up and let your heart be less troubled today.
“A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”-Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)
We can only experience the true beauty of vulnerability when we’re courageous enough to crack open the fractures in our mask and allow the light to shine in.-Alicya Perreault
Everyone has problems, and learning to share them is essential. Hiding pain requires an enormous amount of energy ; sharing it is liberating. -Carly Simon