Earlier this spring, I had the chance to hear Dr. Temple Grandin speak at the University of Georgia. Granted, she spoke to the veterinary school about animal behavior. But, as the mama to a son with Autism, I couldn’t resist an opportunity to see this incredible woman in person.
I listened, strangely captivated, as Dr. Grandin discussed everything from cattle behavior to how fear manifests itself in animals.
She spoke at length about sheep, a topic that piqued my interest, given all the parallels the scripture draws between us and this adorable (yet somewhat intellectually challenged!) breed:
But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever (Psalm 79:13a ESV).
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way (Isaiah 53:6a ESV).
For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls (1 Peter 2:25 ESV).
One particular fact Dr. Grandin presented simply jumped out at me, and it’s been rattling around in my mind ever since:
Sheep hide the fact that they are in pain.
So much so, that if you need to know exactly where or how a sheep is injured, you have to stealthily catch it on hidden video!
This statement struck me between the eyes, as it seemed like yet another powerful example of how we humans mimic sheep. Because truthfully, how often do we talk honestly about our pain? We, like sheep, are masters of disguise, going to great lengths to hide our pain.
We hide behind a busy life or career.
We hide behind nice clothes and a forced smile.
We hide behind the paper-thin facade of an “I’ve got it all together” life.
And in our age of technology, we’ve become especially adept at hiding our pain behind shiny, filtered photos of “perfect moments.” Nevermind the fact that oftentimes, those moments are equally preceded and followed by less-than-shiny real life moments.
We hide our pain in a feeble attempt at self-preservation … yet the unfortunate truth is, pain that is hidden has no means for a healthy resolution. We limp along, working hard to cover and conceal.
What’s worse, pain in the hands of our enemy can be used to take us out. We put ourselves at great risk for becoming that unfortunate sheep at the back of the pack, moments away from being overtaken by the hungry predator.
This is a disconcerting reality. And yet, hope abounds—because pain, in the hands of our ever-redeeming God, can become a weapon against our enemy.
Dear reader, Jesus came so that you and I might be free (see Galatians 5:1).
Free from the need to hide our pain.
Free from the need to cover and cake over our scars with layers of lies.
Free from the empty life of pretending everything is fine all the time. I may not know you personally, but I know it’s not. Because life in this broken world is messy, difficult, and just plain distressing at times. We are, none of us, immune from this reality.
The honest sharing of our pain paves the way for us to find healing. And our decision to walk in authenticity can also pave the way for others to do likewise. What’s more, this opening up of our broken places gives glory to our Father—our Good Shepherd—as we reflect back all the ways His saving grace is touching and restoring our wounded hearts.
Not everyone is called to blog or write or speak publicly about his or her pain, but each one of us needs a safe person or small community with whom we can honestly be open about the state of our hearts.
Sweet reader, is there something you’re hiding today? From one needy soul to another, may I encourage you to seek out that safe place, and be willing to take the risk of speaking honestly about your pain.
The loving Shepherd and Overseer of your soul longs to draw you into an authentic, whole, abundant life, one full of fellowship with Him and with others.
You and I were never meant to carry our burdens alone. You and I were never meant to hide.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2 ESV).
Today, I pray that you and I alike would find the courage to move toward healing by refusing to hide any longer. Freedom awaits, dear one.