Think of this as a "private handicap" if you will. By this I don't necessarily mean a secret life as in having moral issues or such. But simply a private difficulty you have to contend with on a regular basis that people would be surprised at.
I have something like this in my life - something I will never be able to discuss with anyone, as a matter of ethics. Yet it's a very difficult challenge.
I can't change it - because it's not within my control. We can only control ourselves (you know, that whole serenity prayer thing) and even with that, we can only control our response, not what happens to us. (you know, the whole rain falling on the just and the unjust thing...) In my case, I simply roll with it and do what it takes from day to day to simply handle what I have to handle through God's grace. Everyone has their own stuff to carry and this happens to be mine.
So why bring it up if I'm never going to tell you what it is? Is this post just to tickle your curiousity?
No, I bring it up for four reasons:
1) To point out that many people around us every day are dealing with thorns in the flesh we will never know about.
2) Realize, the internal pressure can seem great for them at times.
3) Don't assume that anyone is okay.
4) If you get the urge to pray for someone even if outwardly they always seem fine - pray fervently for them because truthfully -- you just don't know.
4) Realize how much little things mean in lifting someone's spirit. You could be the lifejacket to someone who is emotionally drowning.
Yesterday I talked with my friend Ada for a few moments out of my busy day. I just called to tell her something real quick about my hair and she was sick and sniffling and sneezing when I called but she didn't want to hang up real quick, so but then we talked a little longer. Just hearing her say, "can't wait to see you Thursday...love you..." put a smile back on my face. Then my friend Pastor Jenn called me, and hearing her voice and a, "hey, how was your day yesterday...really?" did the same. After doing a hospital visit, I came home and there was a card in my mailbox from my friend Pastor Andrea telling me what a great job she thinks I'm doing especially in light of some major obstacles I overcame last year. These were the high points of my day which was otherwise dismal. Don't ever underestimate the power of a friend's caring voice whether by phone, card or in person.
The bottom line of this post? I believe every one of your friends is dealing with something they might not ever be able to tell you about. None of my friends past or present know about my issue - it's between God and me. My thorn will likely go to the grave with me or up in the rapture, but just their voice or their hug, or their "hey, you're doing a great job" means the world.
We are all wired for connection and we need each other to stay healthy admist our challenges. Be a person who prays in the spirit for your friend and follows the leading of the spirit to call, write or pray when God prompts.