(Planting Roots’ response to Free to Grow During Grief by Anonymous)
By Katye Riselli
Planting Roots recently chose to publish our Monday Minute without attribution. We chose to simply use the term “anonymous” because we believed the identity of the writer mattered less than the message. We believed then, and we are even more confident today, that the vulnerable story offered by our sister spoke to a common hurt that too often goes unspoken, especially in Christian circles. The identity of the writer is known to a handful of our senior staff, and our leadership decided to extend a covering of grace by permitting her to share her story and the lessons she’s learning without attribution. As her friends and colleagues, we have come together as her community of support, encouragement, and prayer.
We are blessed by her honesty about the pain in her marriage. The outpouring of responses from our readers indicates many readers have been blessed as well. Collectively, the staff of Planting Roots prays for every one of our readers. Our desire is to be a ministry by military women, for military women, equipping and encouraging every woman in every circumstance. To this end, we collaboratively wrote this message of encouragement for any reader who nodded quietly or silently raised their hand saying, “That’s me, I need prayer for my marriage.”
Or perhaps there’s another pain point in your life where you need prayer. With these words, hear us say to you, “You’re not alone.” We’ve chosen to put one name on this piece as the writer, but she pens the words on behalf of our entire team. We share this message of hope as the full community of Planting Roots staff, including the writer of our anonymous Monday Minute post.
Did you read our recent Monday Minute by an anonymous writer? I admit the first time I began reading it I skimmed the message and set it aside. I wasn’t sure it applied to me. Then I remembered a friend who recently confided in me that her marriage is on the rocks. I began to read purposefully. As I did, I realized the importance of reading stories like hers.
Honest vulnerability offers an inside look into pain I might not otherwise understand. I tend to believe reading stories like hers offers an opportunity to step into the sorrow and discover how to better comfort a friend or neighbor in need.
We may not have the same struggles, but as believers, we’re called to comfort others with the comfort we have received from the Lord in our own lives.
But how often do we miss out on comfort because we’re afraid to talk about the stuff that hurts?
Whenever I talk to civilians about life in the military, I encourage them to listen for what military spouses aren’t saying – because our greatest challenges are what we’re afraid to say aloud.
“It’s scary to name the heartbreaking parts of life in the military. We spend a lot of time trying not to get our hopes up, to manage our expectations, and avoid disappointment. But what if, in the process of protecting our hearts, we lose heart? What if, in the process of wearing the “superwoman mask,” we lose the opportunity to build the relationships and the community we most desperately need in order to thrive in this military life?”
Friends, we need each other. We were designed for community. We become our best selves in community. I believe our recent anonymous Monday Minute resonated deeply with many women because it spoke to a fragile place in each of us that wonders whether it’s ok to ask for help, for prayer, or for encouragement for a particularly difficult journey.
Spoiler alert: Yes, it IS ok. Recognizing our shared need reveals the path to an authentic, faith-filled life.
We need each other to listen.
I need people in my life who provide a safe space to be vulnerable. Their presence in my life offers me an opportunity to be brave. We are BRAVE when we’re willing to step beyond the surface conversations and talk about the heart stuff.
As believers, we are FREE to have these conversations because there is no condemnation or guilt for those who believe. It’s ok to admit when we’re hurting… when we’re weary… when we’re feeling broken and battered by life… when our marriage feels like it’s failing.
When I feel most alone is when I most need to reach out to my circle of friends.
We need each other to pray.
Vulnerability unmasks our hurt and provides the opportunity to take what pains us most to God in prayer. The Bible gently reminds me God wants to bear my burdens because He loves me. Psalm 55 instructs me, “Cast all your cares upon him because he cares for you.”
When we don’t know how to pray, the Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. So, too, do our friends when we invite them into our hurt and ask for them to pray alongside us. I’m amazed how often God graciously allows me to see His provision and protection in the life of a friend when I pray for her.
My faith grows by seeing God’s faithfulness in the lives of my friends and family.
We need each other to flourish.
Our lives flourish when we tend what’s below the surface, that’s why Planting Roots believes in cultivating deep roots of faith. Two are better than one, because there is greater reward, and a cord of three strands is not easily broken.
Our fellow writer lived the truth of these words when she stepped out in faith – despite her fear – and shared the pain in her marriage. She sought one or two close friends and asked for prayer. She chronicled her story and offered it to Planting Roots readers as a gift.
Her honest recognition of the hard path she’s on offers hope for someone else reading her words from a place of despair and isolation. By sharing her story, she turned around and called out encouragement – casting the Light of truth into a place that feels dark. Her vulnerability invites authenticity in all of us.
When I spoke with the writer of the anonymous Monday Minute, I asked her how she felt after writing her story. She pointed to the immense relief she felt after sharing her burden with close friends; now she sees how her willingness to be honest offers freedom to other women, too.
The dread and fear dissipated almost immediately when she realized reaching out freed her to share the load with trusted friends. Rather than encountering trite responses, she discovered thoughtfulness and kindness. Her vulnerability invited meaningful conversation, which in turn provided powerful perspective to pursue truth.
We need each other to speak truth.
Sometimes it’s hard to lift our eyes from our present circumstances and see the bigger picture. When we invite others into our circle of trust, we allow them to speak truth when we might otherwise wallow in our emotions.
How we feel isn’t right or wrong, but what we do with it matters. Our friends can help us replace lies with truth.
We feel hopeless, but in Jesus we have a firm anchor, a sure hope in every circumstance (Hebrews 6:19). We feel alone, but God is always with us; He promises never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We feel defeated, but in Christ we are “hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8-9).
Today, you may or may not feel like your heart is broken, you may or may not have a friend walking through difficulty, but we all crack under pressure. Life in the military is one of the most pressure-filled environments I’ve experienced. Whether we see it or not, there are cracks in the people around us. Let’s ask the Lord to open our eyes to see the hurt and to give us the wisdom to speak truth.
May we bring light and life to those around us. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).
Identify your circle of trust. Do you have friends who provide a safe space to be vulnerable? Consider who the Lord has placed in your life to offer support and encouragement for the road ahead. If you don’t have this, ask the Lord to provide. Email us at Planting Roots and we’ll pray with you.
Cultivate authentic relationships. Vulnerability creates authentic friendships, fosters meaningful conversation, and empowers us to keep an eternal perspective rooted in truth.
Handle with care. Trust provides the bedrock of authentic community. Respect the privacy of those who share their burdens. Honor their confidences and refrain from gossip. (If it’s not your prayer request for your life, it’s not yours to share. God already knows, anyway.)
Live generously. God designed us for community so we could see His abundance manifest in the lives of His people. If it’s not your season of difficulty, expect God to fill you daily with life and truth and goodness and faith to pour into the lives around you. Give generously. You’re sowing today in faith. Next year the friend who receives your prayers and encouragement may return the favor.
Verses to Consider:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. … A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hop we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, and not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)
Lord, thank you for being a God who leaves the 99 to pursue the lonely one. We praise you for the comfort we have received through your grace. May your comfort be fully evident today in every bruised spirit and broken heart. Shine your Light of truth into the cracked places and strengthen our faith. You are our safe refuge, Lord. Remind us of Your security even as You bring Your people alongside us to tangibly encourage us on this journey. Amen.