by Heather Williquette
Over the last five years I have suffered. A lot. And if there is one thing that I have learned (and learned to despise) about suffering, it’s the unspoken rule that exists in Christians circles that all feelings, thoughts, and attitudes regarding our suffering must be kept “hush hush.”
When I first started walking through some serious suffering, I possessed a shred of optimism in knowing that I would be surrounded by a community of Christians as I walked through the hard days. I naively thought that being surrounded by hordes of Bible-believing, Jesus-loving Christians would, in some ways, lighten the load of my suffering. I thought wrong.
I was optimistic in thinking that my fellow Christians who had rejoiced with me over my pregnancy announcement would willingly weep with me when I shared of our baby’s passing. But instead, I was met with mostly radio silence. I was also met with judgmental stares and comments if I shared anything too raw or just too honest when I was asked how I was doing. I came to the painful realization that the only acceptable answer for most Christians when they asked me how I was doing was “Great! God is good!” If my reply consisted of anything other than that fabricated and often false (because we’re all always struggling in some way) answer, I was judged harshly for answering “incorrectly.” I wasn’t allowed to be honest. I wasn’t allowed to admit that I was struggling or feeling defeated. I always had to say, “I’m good,” even when I wasn’t.
You see, I naively expected my fellow Christians to help me bear the load of the tremendous burdens with which I was dealing, but I was instead often met with people telling me to keep my burdens and my pain to myself. And I asked myself “why?” so many times. Why? Why are Christians like this?
Walking through trials alongside other Christians, I have learned that burdens and struggles are something by which we should be embarrassed. I have learned that I am nothing but a complainer if I share even one iota too many about a valley through which I’m currently walking. I have learned that to be walking through a trial is something to be ashamed of because trials always indicate a serious sin problem for which God is punishing me.
Except it doesn’t. None of that is true. Not even a little bit. I have been told to keep my mouth shut. Yet, I refuse to. Sorry. Not sorry. #rebel
The Bible commands us to rejoice with those are rejoicing and to weep with those who are weeping (Romans 12:15). The Bible also commands us to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). There are no caveats or conditions. These aren’t suggestions. They’re commands.
So many Christians (I’d venture to say most Christians) willingly choose to ignore the “weeping part” of that verse. Because rejoicing is just easier, isn’t it? Nobody wants to talk to me about my two dead babies when they can walk just two rows over in the church auditorium and talk to “happier” women who are pregnant with alive and well little babies.
It’s easier to rejoice with others. And because it’s easier to talk only about the “mountaintop moments” with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we foolishly, yet willingly, neglect the other half of the congregation that is stuck walking through painful valleys.
This is the reality of so many Christian circles. (If yours is different, consider yourself so very blessed. Because it’s abnormal, let me tell you.) I am ashamed and heartbroken by this reality. Because when I needed the fellowship and help of my fellow Christians the very most, it was nowhere to be found.
Please don’t be that Christian. Ask people how they are and stick around to hear the answer. Ask people how they are doing and be willing to listen to the answer no matter how hard, raw, or honest it is. Be the Christian that others are willing to pour their burdens out to because they know, without a doubt, you’re selflessly willing to help them to bear it. Walk beside and carry your fellow Christians as they walk through valleys and burdens. Don’t leave them. Don’t ignore them. Don’t forget about them. Stay with them and bear their burden as you’d want them to bear yours . . . just as we’re commanded to.
Author’s bio: Heather Williquette is our sister-in-law, married to Grace’s brother. She graduated from Maranatha Baptist University in 2014 with a bachelors in English, after which she taught at two Christian schools in Maryland and Tennessee before getting married in 2019. She keeps up with her Instagram blog, OnlyByHisGrace, desiring to put biblical truth into women’s hands and minds. She also is foster mom to two beautiful twin boys, plus caretaker for the family cat, Peanut.