Grace, if nothing else, you’d think, would give us the ability to tell others we love when we’re hurting. We make the statement “What if there were a place so safe that the worst of you could be known, and you’d discover that you would not be loved less but more in the telling of it?” Oh, how I love that statement. I love how God has wired it to be so. I love the healing in that truth. I love how I believe it with all my heart.

…Until I need it.

I actually think I understand how to apply this truth when I’ve failed, again. I’m learning to try it out when I must admit my foolishness to my wife in a depth that allows her to believe me. I actually think over these last twenty years I’m beginning to believe that part. You know where I don’t believe it?

When I’m hurting.

When my soul gets stunned with grief, when I can’t face the world well. When everything around me is suddenly painted mean or distorted. When I’ve overestimated my maturity, thinking what I understood would get me through the storm, only to discover it didn’t. That’s when I want to hide what is true about me. That one, oh that one, more than failure, makes me feel pitiful. That one makes me feel like my seat could be taken away at the table.

This is at the heart of shame. To feel particularly and uniquely not enough. To get embarrassed by your world not working. I never want to be felt sorry for, or be the guy who isn’t “getting it”. This is especially tough for those of us who dare give expressions of hope and release to others-lets say, for example, in speaking, writing, or Facebook posts. Even though it goes against everything we teach, I sure don’t want to be that guy in need of the truth he is offering!

I’m starting to realize this is one of the reasons why anyone would spend so much time and risk to create and nurture deep, tested, vulnerable relationships of grace. It’s for these times, when you can’t call out. To have friends who sense the nuances of your hurt and relentlessly gain permission to carry the pain you want to cover. And when they show up with everything they have, when they cry out to God on your behalf, something happens that breathes life into your inability to breath. Something in their lack of judgment, their willingness to allow pain to be created in them on your behalf, tells you there is a day approaching, a new chapter that you have not yet experienced.

It’s so vitally important that we learn to tell trusted others the worst and hardest stuff about us. Especially the unhealthy stuff we’re giving ourselves permission to begin to entertain. But blessed are they who’ve chosen to invest deeply in intimate, vulnerable relationships of trust and love. For they have a posse who can find them in any storm, pull them out of any drift. They find you in the cold with Good Earth, or Candy Cane Lane Tea. That’s how they roll. I’ve got myself a few such friends. If you don’t, “The Cure”, especially in chapter 6, will help you discover how to find such a posse of your own.

This is grace when you can’t ask for it very well. And that, my friends, is why they call it grace.

John. One of the Three Amigos, part of the ever-growing tribe of grace