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I am a man of many missions.  I have lots of different things that I focus on (I use the term “focus” loosely.  Where was I?  Oh yeah…).  I am responsible for organizations, teams, ministries, people, my family, the list goes on.  Some of them I am remunerated to lead, others I do so voluntarily, yet others it is a straight obligation.  However, I feel that it is time for me to add another responsibility, another charge, another task, another assignment and/or calling.

I am going to be the voice.  No, not the “voice of the Penn Hills Indians” from a public address announcer perspective I am already that.  No, I am going to the voice that runs out into the town square (I know we don’t really have those anymore…be patient) and screams, “You can stop pretending, we are all facing horrific crap and hurt in our life.  Take off your happy masks and just be.  It’s okay, we’re all in this together.”

I know, I’ve written about it before here…and here.  It’s almost a cliche’ to say that everyone is facing a difficulty in their life.  We all say that, but we don’t act like it.  We don’t act like it in regards to others.  If we truly believed that most people were facing something very challenging in their life we might offer a minute or two more grace before crushing them outwardly or certainly inwardly.  We also don’t act like it in regards to ourselves.  We don’t grieve, we don’t mourn, we don’t seek someone to join us in our pain.  We put on this facade that all is well…when deep down (or perhaps just below the surface) we know it’s not.

You see, I know a lot of people.  I hear lots of stories.  I have cried with more than a few.  Also, it’s a documented fact that most people tend to share way too much about other people.  Thus, I don’t just have a myopic sample of a few people that I found in the emotional gutter figuratively lying next to me.  No, I can go at length giving you examples of the most prominent personalities to the most hidden and obscure everyday John and Jane Doe’s.  All of them are facing huge obstacles that thwart their ability to breath and experience true peace.  Most hide behind social media and self help/religious platitudes letting the (and their) world know that all is well when the reality is that little is well at all.

I always tell my girls volleyball team to not worry about the girl who smiles all day because she actually cries herself to sleep every night.  Too often teenage girls think that their world is falling apart and that they are a freak since everyone else’s life is just fine.  I have come to the conclusion that this doesn’t apply to teenage girls but…everyone.

Perhaps you’re reading this and simply shaking your head.  You just don’t understand what I’m talking about.  You’re thinking, “Geez Jay, I mean, I am facing some stuff but others have it worse…far worse than I do.”  You’ve already started it.  You’re minimizing your pain.  You’re telling yourself not to feel bad.  You’re weighing grief/mourning/suffering on some nebulous scale.  Perhaps YOU are THE one, or perhaps one of “x” amount of people who aren’t facing anything and life is just hunky dory.  Just read on so you can better understand the rest of us.

I say all of this to come to this conclusion.  It’s ok.  Be real, be open, be honest, be vulnerable.  I know you’ve been hurt before when you’ve shared a tough moment or two and been burned by someone who lacked the proper skills of comfort, support, and most damaging, confidentiality.  You have to keep sharing.  Keeping it in just begets more pain and suffering.

Just stop playing the “everything is fine” game when it isn’t.  I’ll be the one.  I’ll be the first to stand with you and face the ugliness that life has handed you.  Then, you do the same for another.  Maybe, after a while, we might just make a difference after all…it’s okay, we’re all in this together.

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