Dear aching heart who feels ready to give up on life, Society and the church has shied away from facing the reality of your pain because it is afraid of a topic so sensitive and raw, and I’m sorry. It’s time we acknowledge and talk about the brokenness you face every day instead of ignoring it in the hopes that it will go away. I can’t change the way the world relates to you overnight, but I write this letter because I want you to know that you are not invisible. You are seen. You are noticed. You are loved. For too long you have hid your hurt and brokenness because it’s messy and there’s this unspoken expectation that you have to have it together and be ok. You may cry yourself to sleep at night but come the morning you have to don your best smile and step out into the world as if you don’t have a care. You pass friends in the hallways and if they actually do ask how you’re doing, you respond with the typical “I’m good!” Not because you are but because that’s what everyone says and few expect a real answer. You probably know what it feels like to tap around on your phone in an attempt to appear busy when everyone else is talking and laughing and you are left on the sidelines. To pretend not to care that you’re not part of the squad laughing in the cafeteria. No one would know from looking at you that you’re desperately lonely. Mornings bring the daily struggle to find something to wear that you feel like actually makes you look good. Because there always sees to be someone better. Someone prettier. Fitter. Someone who has better grades. More friends and popularity. Someone who has it more together. And most of the time that weighs over you like a black cloud. Worthlessness seems like a never escaping sidekick that follows you everywhere— no matter what you accomplish. People have no idea how much time you spend trying to hide the brokenness you feel inside so that you look “normal” like everything else. They have no idea that while you throw your energy into building thicker and thicker walls around your heart, you’re actually desperately longing that someone would be able to see through them to your bleeding heart and actually pause long enough to ask if you’re really ok. You know that something isn’t right, but you’re not sure what. Maybe depression, distorted thought patterns, hormonal imbalances, medical or mental struggles. You wish you could talk about it, but you’re not sure if anyone would care and you’re afraid to come out of the shell of okayness that you’ve spent so long constructing. I’m here to tell you that there are people who care. True, there are not enough of us and you’ve probably encountered plenty of people in your life who haven’t and that is not right. But despite how much you may feel unnoticed, you are not alone. Scattered across the world are people who want nothing more than to listen to you, understand you, and be there for you. They are the ones whose hearts would break in two if you were gone— who would shed countless tears for you. Sometimes the walls you have built around your heart are so deep that even they can’t see through them. Sometimes they catch a glimpse and want to ask but are afraid of intruding on ground that they’re not sure you’ll want to share. Just because they don’t always say anything doesn’t mean they don’t notice and secretly shed tears and send up prayers for you. From the heart of one of those people, I plead with you— don’t isolate yourself. Don’t bottle up all your pain and hide it so far inside that no one can help you until it’s too late. We may have failed to always have eyes open to your pain, and for that we are sorry. But please don’t let our lack convince you that the only option is to hide. There is an unnatural pleasure (as well as a desperate agony) that comes from isolation and far too many lives are lived there— or ended there. Don’t let that be you. Talk to someone. Tell someone what you are really going through. It’s not weakness to admit you’re not okay. It’s not shameful to admit that you are walking through the depths of depression or mental illness. It’s not unkindness or betrayal of an abuser to tell someone the story and get it out in the open. The fact that you have been or are going through these things does not make you less. In actuality it is a mark of your courage— that you have born pain and not given up. Please don’t rob those of us who care the privilege of being able to love and listen to you in your pain. Don’t try to carry the burden alone when we would love to share it. Don’t be so afraid of bothering us with your problems that you break our hearts with your absence. Even greater than the reality that we care is the reality that there is a God who cares. I know some of you don’t believe that, some aren’t sure, and some believe it but the pain has dulled it’s reality until it seems like a distant fact. I share because it is this God that has made me all that I am and whose love gives me courage each day to live my life. No discussion about love for the broken can be complete without a mention of the one who loves a thousand times more than the closest person to you ever could. You’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again because it is the most life-changing truth you will ever encounter. He loves you. Point blank. He saw every time you were lonely. Every time you were bullied. He heard every conversation in your mind where you convinced yourself once again that you were useless. He’s seen every wound— every hidden scar, whether physical or emotional. He knows your pain like no human does. He’s seen every tear, even the ones that soaked into your pillow in the dark, and He shed His own right along with you. It’s just that, like the world couldn’t see yours, you couldn’t see His. He’s seen and He’s wanted nothing more than to come and be a companion to you in your pain… to hold you in the dark… to listen to every little bit of your heart when you need someone to talk to… to wipe your tears when you cry. I know that far too often He is misrepresented as a stern judge who is out to set you straight or ruin you, but He is not that. It’s heartbreaking to me that the people who should be the biggest argument for Him are often the biggest argument against Him.
Perhaps you have been wounded by someone who said they were His. Maybe some of your pain has come from the distorted life of someone who claimed to be His follower. If so, I am sorry. Christianity is not about platitudes, coldness, judging, holier-than-thou attitudes, hypocrisy, or guilt trips. I have no respect or desire to advocate a religion like that. But that’s not the Jesus I know. The God who has changed the entire course of my life is one of love, gentleness, and healing. Sure, He’s asked me to obey Him, to give Him things I treasure, but only so He can give me treasures that are infinitely better. I’m not here to give you a lecture about Him today. You’ve probably heard more of your share of those already. I’m simply here to tell you that He loves you and to beg you to try Him. To not settle for thinking He is what you have heard and seen from people who misrepresent Him. I mention Him because I beg you not to carry or end your life alone when He is longing to hold you. That’s all. From the heart of someone who breaks for all the unspoken pain in the world—all the pain that ends that needlessly ends life after life— I write because I care and because I know I am not the only one who could say that. You have stood alone long enough. Today I want you to know in the dark of your night that someone affirms you and that you are not invisible. You are not worthless. You are loved. You are treasured. You are prayed for. Because you matter. Infinitely.