As women, we’re always comparing ourselves to those around us.
We wonder: Am I as beautiful as her? Am I loved as much as her? Am I as talented as her?
Or the big one: If I had her life, I would be happy too.
We get entagled in the web of comparison and it steals our connection with each other. It takes away from us what we are meant for – true fellowship. 1 John 1:17 says, “but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” I love the three steps in this verse:
This verse taught me that to be in fellowship with each other requires us to walk in the light. If we find ourselves in a place of no peace, no joy, and no freedom, it’s often an indication that we are not walking in the light. If we feel lifeless, burdened down, and hopeless, it’s often the result of not having true fellowship.
I often wondered, is it possible to have true fellowship and walk in the light on planet Earth with all the darkness, deception, and superficial lives we lead? Is it possible to live a life where we are open, transparent, and real with one another? Can we share our burdens so that we don’t have to carry them alone?
Because of my own journey through a “darkness of the soul,” I can empathize with how it feels to experience the opposite of fellowship. I had a superficial connection with people because I had so many secrets. I had so much hidden inside, and I constantly felt guilt and shame.
True fellowship is never possible with secrets in our lives. Whatever keeps us from being real and transparent will be a stumbling block to connection. Darkness hides the “real me.”
Darkness formed in my life because of trauma, which led to confusion and, ultimately, despair, resentment, and bitterness. I was disappointed God allowed me to experience the death of my nineteen-month-old daughter and then abuse by a pastor. I didn’t know what to do with these experiences. I didn’t know how to process them or express my feelings. My voice was taken, and secrets began to form inside the darkness. I could never tell anyone what happened.
During this time, it felt like God was silent. I didn’t understand that I’m responsible for walking in the light. I had to make choices that helped me walk in the light. I didn’t know how to do this; therefore, I believed I needed to pretend that everything was okay because if I was “real,” I would be rejected or punished.
God knew all along how I was feeling and He wanted me to express and be honest about my struggles. He wanted me to open up and express my story.
The day finally came when I started to share my story. I confessed all the secrets, pain, shame, and guilt. Each time I did, I found more freedom and connection with others. At first, it was a real struggle to confess my story, but when I did, I began to walk in the light. In time, I experienced true fellowship with God, my husband, and my community again.
Being authentic and sharing our stories helps us learn compassion instead of comparison. We learn that we aren’t alone in our struggles, and instead of comparing our lives to each other, we carry one another’s burden. As I experienced this kind of genuine fellowship, God cleansed me from all sin, just like it says in the third part of 1 John 1:17.
When you bring your story out of the darkness and into the light, true fellowship and healing can begin. I have found incredible freedom from doing this, and I believe you will too.
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Auntie Anne Beiler is best know as the founder of Auntie Anne’s pretzels, the world’s largest pretzel franchise. But before rising to success, Anne went through years of defeat, despair, and depression that kept her stuck in a place of darkness. Her story became the tool she used to overcome, and it was through her pain that she discovered her purpose. Learn more at auntieannebeiler.com.