You know those moments when you can truly sense someone’s unconditional love for you? My husband has given me many moments like these, and there’s one in particular that I’ll never forget.
In January 2013, when I was in college, I contracted the worse stomach bug I’ve had in my entire life. (I will spare you the not-so-glamorous details.) After hours of being sick, he stayed by my side throughout the entire night. It didn’t matter how horrible I looked, or how loopy or lethargic I became, because in that moment, all that mattered was that I was still conscious — still the Lauren he knew and loved.
Three years later, as we battle my health problems together, my husband continues to be a constant support, companion, lover and friend. For this and so much more, he’s one of those people that I feel like I can truly be myself around. No matter what. I don’t have to put up a guard. I don’t have to put on an act. I don’t have to present myself all prim and proper in his presence. I can just be me. I can let my guard down, make funny faces, say silly things and live completely free.
It’s not that I don’t feel like I can be myself with the people I work with or run into at the grocery store. But the truth is they don’t know the whole story. They don’t know the real Lauren. And so that makes it hard to be totally real with them.
We can be true to ourselves in our workplaces and communities, but if we lack deep relationships that allow us to fully bring our guards down, our spirits will suffocate.
We all need people in our lives who know our story and know the real us.
Whether it’s being able to express our opinions openly, be silly or just be plain vulnerable, having people who respect and deeply know us gives us a safe place to live, rest and breathe. When the world gets heavy, and the other people in our life don’t seem to care, these kinds of relationships lift the weight off of our shoulders and help us forget about whatever is consuming our minds.
But there’s another place where we can freely experience this level of intimacy. A place that is always there — constant, stable and firm. And that place is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus offers us a place to live, rest and breathe. A place that’s even more rejuvenating than the places we find ourselves in with our loved ones. A safe haven where it doesn’t matter if we look or speak properly, it just matters that we are His — the person he created, knows and loves.
This is where we can bring our guards down and be seen and loved for who we really are — a child of God. His arms are always open. His promises are always true. And in His presence, we can be the unfiltered version of ourselves. We can be honest. We can tell him exactly how we feel. We can give ourselves some breathing room. We can ask for help. And we can truly be at peace.
When I was younger, I used to think I had to get myself in order before coming to Jesus. I had to finish crying and put on a brave face. I had to edit what I said in prayer. But as I’ve grown in my relationship with Him, I now know that He doesn’t want a cleaned up version of me. He wants and loves the real me. And He wants and loves the real you, too.
Here’s my challenge for each of us this week: Let’s set aside some time for authentic living. Let’s invest in the relationships that allow us to be our true selves. Let’s not be afraid to let others and let Jesus into our mess. Let’s be honest people who are full of grace and truth. Be-you-tiful.