This Fall the falling leaves, which now reveal all kinds of buildings, fields, and pastures previously hidden, remind me of the camouflage we all wear to some extent.
I wore many layers camouflage in college. At the time my family was falling apart. My parents were constantly fighting and eventually separated while I was in school. On top of that, I was finally free to process the abuse I had gone through while growing up, and many times I would find a safe place to hide and cry. I doubt anyone but my few closest friends had a clue what I was going through. I did see a campus counselor, and though she helped, none of the adults I was close to at school knew what was going on at home. Ironically, during the hardest semester I had, I made straight A’s. It was either drown myself in busyness or get drunk, and I reasoned since getting drunk could get me kicked out of my private Christian school, drowning in busyness was the better alternative.
However, the camouflage act didn’t work. Even through the worst of my teen years, I have never felt so much internal pain. Never felt so alone. There were times when I would stand in the shower the water blazing hot, so I would feel physical pain instead of internal pain. There were other times when I would look out the window of my dorm’s 3rd floor sunroom and seriously consider jumping. It was only God’s almost tangible arm around me that kept me from it. Wearing that much camouflage and falling apart in relative secret with no one to really help was not healthy and almost undid me in the end.
On the other hand, being real when Jeremy and I were struggling during our first few years of marriage was extremely healthy. Though it wasn’t obvious to everyone, I told my friends, saw a counselor, and had trusted mentors whom I met with and who helped me tremendously. This time instead of falling completely apart, I was able to learn the tools I needed to do my part to save our marriage.
The difference I think was transparency. During that time eight years ago, I tried to stop hot gluing all my leaves back on and pretending I wasn’t falling apart. Even now when I’m going through something that threatens to undo me, letting others in gives me a safe place to fall and gain wisdom at the same time.
It’s interesting. The more I listen to others and open up myself, the more I find out that, though I am unique, my life experiences are not. There are many, many others who have walked where I have walked, who have survived, and even thrived. When I lay aside my camouflage, I allow those in who can listen and who can help.
Friend, if you’re suffocating today beneath your camouflage, please put it down. First, in the presence of God. Rail at him, scream, cry, let Him in and allow Him to respond through the time you spend with Him. I promise you if you ask, he will show up. Then there are formal settings to be real in like Celebrate Recovery and counseling, and less formal like trusted friends, family, or older members at church who could be your mentors and listening ears. Many times all you have to do is ask.
Know that I’m praying for you. Praying that as you open yourself up to God and seek Him that He will be there to catch you and reveal Himself to you. I’m also praying that He provides you with safe people, who have walked where you’ve walked, can listen, and can mentor you along the way.
I love you, friends! God Bless,