One night last week, I had a group of friends over. We sat outside drinking malbec, eating spicy goat cheese, and sharing stories. There was a mixture of people: married and single, parents and without kids, under and over 30. We always have a great time together, but there was something unique about this particular night. Stories quickly turned from more surface-level to sharing deep struggles and worries. We shared about the hard parts of marriage and the hard parts of singleness. We shared about how God had protected us, and how following him meant a more difficult path. We encouraged one another in our individual strengths, and we shared about our weaknesses. We talked long into the night, finally dispersing only because we had to get up early the next morning for work.
I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd just experienced something holy and precious. Something that Christians should experience more when they gather. There was an authenticity, a lack of judgment, an increasing empathy for other's situations.
And the biggest takeaway for me was that we normally do a poor job of sharing this part of life: the messy, fragile, tender parts. And yet we all walked away encouraged. Though the enemy often lies to us and tells us we're alone, we're failures, and that no one will understand, sharing our stories allowed God's truth to wash over us.