In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. ~Ephesians 6:16
For far too many years, I wasn’t following the instructions of Paul to take up the shield of faith. Instead, I hid behind my smile and outgoing personality, exuding toxic positivity.
Toxic Positivity is defined by Psychology Today as, The phrase “toxic positivity” refers to the concept that keeping positive, and keeping positive only, is the right way to live your life. It means only focusing on positive things and rejecting anything that may trigger negative emotions (August 2019). While this may seem a great way to approach life and relationships, it results in denying our true emotions and makes people we encounter feel ashamed because they are struggling.
As a Christian, I fell far and deep into this way of responding to my own emotions and when handling the trials and tribulations of others. I would smile and hide behind it instead of acknowledging and confessing my trials as we are called to do by Jesus.
James 5:16 calls us to confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. When I look at myself during this time, I gave a message that I was living a life that was free from negative emotions, trials, tribulations, or sin. Pretending that everything is okay was less painful and safe. However, God had other plans for me.
It wasn’t until I dropped my smile and made myself vulnerable that God began to work through me. It is through vulnerability that I am able to share my story, break free from the grips of shame, and walk alongside others who are hurting. No longer will I tell someone that it could always be worse than what they are experiencing. I will hold their hand and hold up their shield of faith when they cannot. I will encourage others to share their disappointment, hurt, shame, and sorrow. I will cry with them and I will stand beside them with no judgment, nor with any shame. I will embrace them in love and grace.
Let me know how I can walk alongside and pray for you.