For the Days When You Try To Hide the Hurt

December 12, 2011 | 51 comments

This is the stuff I’d rather hide, because it dulls the shine off of a good veneer. I’d rather you didn’t know about the days when shadows of discouragement creep in, like long bony fingers ready to snatch away joy.

Maybe today, if I just posted another colorful picture with a nice Bible verse, and hit PUBLISH quickly, then you would never know. No one would notice or think to ask.

And then, maybe if I had to show up at the grocery store or the church, I would have more time to slap on a pretty smile before I saw you coming. And when you ask me how I am, I could just say it real bold-like: “I’m fine!”

You’d never know any different. 

I’m clever with disguises, so you wouldn’t even think to ask: “No, really? How are you?”

But maybe I shouldn’t share all of that with you. Because maybe it’s just me. 

Then again, maybe it’s not.

Maybe it’s OK to tell you the truth, to drop the facade, and let you peek into my life a little bit — to see the places where I fail to live up to my half-hearted promises. Maybe you would know that some days, I feel the ache of disappointment. I lose my temper. I allow my feelings to get hurt. I make prayer a last resort. Maybe you’d want to know that there are days where I allow my disappointments to ring louder than my praise.

Maybe, if we risked being really real, then you wouldn’t feel so alone. And maybe then, I wouldn’t either.

Then, maybe the two of us, we could link hearts out here, even if we can’t link hands, and we would realize right then that two hearts beat louder than one. Together, I wonder, if our hearts might drown out the hollow ring of disappointment. And if we close our eyes and listen closely here in the dark, we can hear something else. Do you hear what I hear?

Yes, right there: the sandaled feet of an old Friend, walking up right beside us, coming to light up the dark corners. 

“A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
— Ecclesiastes 4:12


Linking up with Michelle and Jennifer today …

by | December 12, 2011 | 51 comments


  1. HisFireFly

    Thank you for honesty, for being real when so many hide.

    Without transparency there can be no true relationship! I love you♥

    • dukeslee

      Thank you, friend. Thanks for linking hearts with me here in the comment box, and for making it feel “safer” to share and to point out the shadows.

  2. amy@to love

    *Maybe, if we risked being really real, then you wouldn’t feel so alone. And maybe then, I wouldn’t either.*

    amen to that jennifer. your words are so true. thank you for your honesty, it opens doors to real life, real relationship. for we all. fall. short.

    • dukeslee

      Thank you for “hearing,” for “listening” and for walking with me a while here, Amy. It means so much. I feel less alone already. 🙂

  3. Doug Spurling

    I feel better just being here. Thanks Jennifer, thanks Jesus.

  4. Suzanne

    Your sweet sister once said to me after I was afraid I had crossed a private line in a conversation – it’s ok, don’t worry or apologize it’s your vulnerability that I love about you. You are always real w/ me and that’s how I know our friendship is real! – you Dukes women are so smart! Thanks for being. REAL with us and Jesus!

    • dukeslee

      Love you, Suzanne. Thanks for sharing here, in this space. Thanks for being the “real deal.” 🙂

  5. Connie@raise your eyes

    I’ve learned to not say, “I’m fine” because I’m not always…not to say, “I’m good” because the only good that’s in me is Him.

    So I say, “I’m well” because along with Mr. Spafford, I’ve learned that awful things happen in this world, but I can choose to let Him spread wellness in my soul.

    Praying for you in this up and down crazy world sister.

    • Kendra

      Connie, I never thought of it this way. I work at a job where people ask me all the time how I am and I almost immediately respond “I’m good”. Its like an automatic response.

      From now on, I think I’m going to practice saying “I’m well”. Because the true Well does truly spread wellness in my soul. Thank you!

  6. kendal

    really, we could be sisters….

    • dukeslee

      And I would LOVE that. 🙂

  7. Dea

    Sorting out things myself today…so I wrote about a yellow dog. He knows who is and what to do. I am in a wrestling match with myself trying to figure it out. I would take your hand but you’ll have to know instead that “I have you in my heart.”

    The old Friend—well, there is none to compare.

    Won’t be able to link on Wednesday. Leave 3:00 AM for Haiti on Wednesday morning. Got to get some hands outlined!

    • dukeslee


      I’ve been thinking about you as you prepare for your trip. I can’t wait to read your stories. I do hope you’ll share some of them? Praying for you as you serve Jesus!

  8. Janet

    Oh Jennifer. I love it when we can be transparent without fear of retribution.

    It’s hard to find a ‘safe’ person or a ‘safe’ harbor to pull into.

    Wouldn’t it be grand if we could always be honest with others – and with ourselves.

    Some of my blog is about my intense fear and the death of my son. I’m not sure I was completely honest when I posted them – but it was all I was willing to show at the time. Had to keep some walls up, you know.

    I had a tendency towards melancholy and depression. I hate that about myself. I just pull on that mask and off I go to do what it is that I have to do.

    I love real people
    Keep on keeping on.

  9. Hazel I Moon

    More times than I can count, I have endured hurts that caused me to be “bent out of shape,” but The Holy Spirit is always there to straighten me out! It is wonderful to have a friend come along side of us and smooth out those hurts. Jesus does that too!

  10. Jason Stasyszen

    We sometimes encourage others not to put up a front, that they can be real, but then when our turn comes we disregard the wisdom. It’s hard not to put up a mask, but we’ll never regret bringing the fear, pain, whatever into the light so that God can bring the healing He wants us to have. Thanks Jennifer.

    • dukeslee

      Oh, wow, Jason. I had to quote you over on my facebook page today. That is so, so true. (How we don’t apply the “be real” standard to ourselves.)

  11. Nancy

    The older I get, the more I feel the responsibility of being real–letting younger women know I’ve messed up often, and badly. I figure if they see God’s grace is sufficient even for me, they might be willing to hide less and receive God’s healing grace as well. Love your heart.

  12. Megan Willome

    So I read this. And then I went to the store, broke a bottle and didn’t tell anyone. Does buying seven more make up for it? Is it worse that it was beer?

    • patricia spreng

      You crack me up Megan. =) Your realness is a magnet, just like Jennifer’s and so many here.

      • dukeslee

        I was cracking up, too, Pat. I am still trying to imagine Megan standing there in aisle five in a puddle of Stella Artois. 🙂

        What brand, Megan?

  13. S. Etole

    Listening for the sandals.

  14. Jennifer@Adam's Rib

    I would definitely want to know, and it is an encouragement. We’re too clever for our own good at putting forth the public face, many times because I don’t think anyone cares to hear or because I think they’d prefer to gossip versus pray about it. It’s pretty sad when you don’t feel like you can ask for prayer for your failures because then you’re the only one who’s admitting to being a failure.

    • dukeslee

      I’ve been in that place, too, and it’s not pretty. (Being the only one to “fess” up.) Pride is a powerful, powerful thing among those who never, ever share.

  15. Amy Sullivan

    I just left a comment somewhere else about me not being good at grieving. Instead, I always force myself to pop back with a smile. The same is true for when I try to hide hurt.

    Blogging is interesting. I only share a sliver, but then I worry that I don’t want to come off as I am all smiles all the time. It’s a tough balance. Although I’d like to say offline I’m better at this, I know it’s not trure.

    Thanks, Jennifer.

  16. Amy Sullivan

    ps I probably should know this, but I don’t. ??? Are you working on any offline writing?

    Just wondering.

  17. Jim

    Jennifer – I think you have hit on one of the biggest struggles we have as believers – being real with one another. How many times have each of us sat in church (or among believers) and thought to ourselves – “what is wrong with me? Why am I so broken? Why does everyone around me have it so together? Can I possibly be who I claim to be – a follower of The Almighty – and yet still mess up so much?” I feel it. Almost daily. I think that almost all of us perpetuate the myth at some time or another…putting on the mask of “perfection”, driving away the most needy, the most vulnerable, the most insecure among us – when they need us the most. It is so important to let those barriers down, not only among believers but in the presence of non-believers. They look at us and think they can never attain what we have or what we “appear” to be. We need to show them that yes, even we Christians are REAL people with REAL struggles, we are not perfect in any sense of the word, but through repentance and God’s grace we can come and have a restored relationship with the creator of the universe! Guess it boils down to LOVE. That is what would truly draw people to Christ.

    Thanks Jennifer for your blog. I read it often…and do you know that you have the ability to make this grown man cry with your words and reflections? -though I will deny it if you tell anyone! Ha, ha!

    • dukeslee


      You are a wise, wise man. I think about all the times I’ve tried to hold it all together, when I know that if I’d just been vulnerable, my openness could have opened up a door with someone who was hurting.

      In the last few years, I’ve sensed that changing. It helps that I attend a church with a lot of broken people — people who are pretty open about their brokenness.

      Compared to them, though, I think I still tend to hold things pretty close — too close. And at what price? I’m only beginning to see when fruit can grow from the soul who humbly admits her failures. And I’m increasingly grateful for a God who can redeem all of them.

      I’m glad you’re here, Jim. Your words have blessed me greatly tonight.

  18. nmdr

    I was just reading that verse before i came here…how about that.

    • dukeslee

      How ’bout that indeed. I love God-incidences.

  19. Carey

    Well said! We need to take the masks off…I don’t believe Jesus ever wore a mask.

  20. Kelly Jo

    I so needed your words tonight! I’ve (we, my boyfriend and I) been struggling with being “real” with our small group, and have not for fear of being judged. I would like to believe that they would embrace us, pray for us and with us, and be there for us as we work through our conflict. I know it’s just fear that we haven’t. Your honesty and being real for us will give me the strength to be real, too. Thank you Jennifer!

  21. MAry beth

    I’ve been following your blog for awhile, this is one of the best ever. I’m right there with you!

  22. Shaunie Friday

    Bless you for your transparency here Jennifer. It’s so important for us to know we’re not alone in feeling the way you described–the creeping discouragement, the disappointment that I’m not better at walking the walk than this. These heart-links are a very, very good thing!! And the light He pours into our midst is the wonderful glow-y warm kind that feels like home. Thank you!

  23. Alida

    We work with so many people here who have tired long and hard to hide their hurts from everyone…it really just makes one more weak and weary. May we all learn the value of letting others see who we truly are.

  24. Alida

    *tried long and hard…

  25. David Rupert

    The “I’m Fine” response is usually a sign that someone isn’t fine.

    I know. I’m the champ at hiding. And because you decided to creep out a little, it gives me courage to do the same

  26. joan

    Your honesty is well received.

    Isn’t God amazing. I wrote Philippians 4:13 in my journal today.

  27. Christina

    Yes! After all, we are all sinners aren’t we? No one has it all together. Why pretend that we do?

  28. Sheila

    That’s me, too….busy trying to spackle over the cracks that keep popping up in the smooth plaster of my image.

    Thanks, Jennifer, for this reminder.

  29. Deborahjoy

    yes, I can put my hand up to also hiding behind the bright smile, usually because I’m fearful that others will be unkind. And that can feel so isolating. It’s so hard to be honest sometimes.

  30. Shanda Oakley

    Thank you for your honesty. I have written similar posts in the last couple weeks but never published them. It is refreshing to know others feel the same way and are willing to put themselves out there. I pray God lifts your spirits and you feel better soon.

  31. Pamela

    A post I needed to read. I have the “I’m fine” perfected. What do you do, though, when chronic pain doesn’t change faces? People would begin to run if I was honest each time I see them. “I’m fine” makes them more comfortable.

  32. Sharon

    Wonderful post, Jennifer! And one so many of us needed to read. I’ve heard it said that Christians are some of the best liars, because we want people to think we’re strong, brave, faith-filled, spiritual rocks who never have a bad day. But you don’t have to look very far in the Bible before finding great men and women of God who had bad days, or bad weeks, or even bad years.

    I can relate to Pamela though, about the chronic pain, and how people would react if I said how I really feel when they ask. It’s often easier on both parties to just say “I’m fine”. Then I don’t have to explain or feel vulnerable, and wonder if they really want to hear about it; and they don’t have to listen and try to think of how to respond.

    Looking at it from the opposite perspective, how much do we* really* want people to tell us when we ask them? So just how much do people *really* want us to tell them when they ask how we are?

    Being real works both ways. We shouldn’t ask, “How are you today?” if we’re just expecting them to say, “I’m fine!” and not take up any of our time. Or make us uncomfortable. Or ask for our prayer.

    I’ve tried to find a balance between lying and saying “I’m fine”, and saying “I’m in a lot of pain, or discouraged, etc., and having a bad day/week!” (truth). The key word there is “tried”, I’m still working on it:)

    I’ve considered saying “God’s got it! Thanks for asking.” If they ask, “God’s got what?”, then they might really want to know how I am. But if they just say, “Well good!”, or “He sure does!”, then I’ve just saved both of us an uncomfortable exchange.

    Your post is very thought-provoking from both sides, the one being asked, and the one who asks. Thank you for offering to link hearts with those of us who are NOT fine, and who have the same kinds of days that you do. And yes, I do hear “the sandaled feet of an old Friend, walking up right beside us, coming to light up the dark corners.”

  33. Dolly

    Thank you, Jennifer, for revealing a little bit more of your journey…it makes me want to give you a hug…so grateful that our Friend is there for us… He knows and He doesn’t expect us to have it all together, otherwise why would we need a Savior? Praying that our Friend lifts your spirits 🙂

  34. Lori

    Amazing honesty. As usual, your words bring me to tears. Thank you, Jennifer.

  35. Lyla Lindquist

    And, I love the big ol’ mess of you. Just in case you forgot already.

  36. fiona

    A beautiful post. Thank you

  37. Rebecca

    Yet another post that spoke directly to my heart. I struggle with being “real”, and finding the balance between “real” and just a plain ol Negative Nelly! 😉
    I heard a wonderful song the other day, during a moment when I was feeling extremely vulnerable and very very broken. Some of you might know it, it’s called “Blessings” by Laura Story. If you haven’t heard it, find it and listen. The backstory behind the song is beautiful as well. She says at one point (and I’m sure I’m not quoting her exactly right, but as well as I can remember) “Sometimes God doesn’t heal us completely for a reason. Sometimes He leaves His vessel a little broken so His light can shine through the cracks”. On the days I feel especially broken, which recently is often, instead of asking WHY I instead thank Him for leaving me a little broken so my pain, my DIScomfort might be used to shine the light of His love on someone who might be needing it at the time.
    Thank you for your honesty, it really helps me to know that someone I look to as a “faith mentor” has the same questions and stumblings as I do.
    In His love,

    • dukeslee


      I so “get” this. Finding that balance between being real and being negative, yes.

      I’m thinking of another post that calls on us as women to be good hearers of “realness.” It’s easy for us to say, “be real,” but then we need to be willing to sit and look that hurting REAL person in the eye, instead of being too busy to really hear the hurt.

      And Rebecca, I love that Blessings song. As I understand it, she recorded that song during the last few minutes of a recording session. She read/sang straight out of her journal. Amazing …

      Thank you for being here. Sending you love.


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