Not long ago I was able to get together with some students who I have been walking through my discipleship process. I placed a chair in the middle of the room and after opening with a prayer for openness and transparency, I stayed quiet and just waited. After about 12 minutes of awkward silence, one student sat in the chair. They started venting everything in their heart and talking about everything that had been weighing them down.
After they finished pouring their heart out, I asked for two students to pray for them. One after another, students sat in the chair and poured out their hearts. With teary eyes, everyone was able to release pain and receive encouragement. I look forward to days like these because the reality is everyone has something that is weighing them down. And it’s a healthy reminder that all of us need to understand an important truth.
It’s okay to not be okay.
I don’t know if it’s because social media has driven us to live a “filtered” life, or if it’s because of our subconscious habit of saying “good” every time someone walks past us and asks how we are doing, but we have this belief that it’s not okay to not be okay. We have to have everything all put together and life has to be sunshine and rainbows.
But all of us know that life is not all sunflowers and skittles. Life can get dark and can be covered with gloomy clouds. 2019 has been life-shattering for me. This year has taken the painting that I thought represented the art of my life and has tossed it into the mud during a thunderstorm. I had to wait until the vision-impairing heavy rain stopped before I could go and pick up the canvas out of the sludge and bring it inside.
2019 has not been okay, but that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that I like how this year has gone so far, it does not mean that what has happened so far is meaningless or that I shouldn’t care about it. It does not mean that all I have experienced is “good.” But it is okay for me to admit that it is not okay. And it’s also okay for you to admit the same thing as well.
How to be okay with not being okay
Originally I was going to write out all of my thoughts on this. But as I finished those thoughts I realized this blog post would be way too long and that you probably wouldn’t even finish it, ha-ha! So, I am going to split this into two posts, each post is going to focus on one thing that is hopefully very practical for you. When it is finished, I will tag the second post at the bottom of this one. But until then, here is the first thing I want to say about how to be okay with not being okay:
Talk about it.
It may sound like simple advice, but seriously, talk to someone. Don’t text them, physically talk to someone. Speak about your problems out loud. When we talk about what burdens us, it helps us process through the pain and the hard times. When fruits die, they leave behind a seed which grips its roots into the soil. Transparency is scary and uncomfortable, but the choice to talk about your pain is like the difference between placing a dying fruit inside of a cupboard and placing it on the soil. Only one of those decisions will lead to a seed growing into a new tree, with new fruit.
The soil for your heart are the people you place in your life. When we choose to not talk about our hurts then our pain will continue to damage our heart. As people, we need other people. We need friends and we need community with others.
As a Christian, I not only get to talk to my friends but I also get to talk to someone else who gives me so much peace. When I pray, I am talking to someone who I know hears what I have to say. Jesus, who was a famous teacher and activist in Israel said this in 30 AD,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”The Good News According to Matthew, Chapter 11
As a Christian, I believe Jesus is God and I hold those words that He said as very sacred. It’s one of the reasons I simply love Jesus because He went out of His way to make sure that I and all who follow Him know that He is listening and that He cares. And when I speak to Him, He actually gives me rest. I believe that God is real, and I believe that when you pray to Him, He listens.
But even if you don’t believe, at the least you need to have wise friends who you can talk to. You need someone wiser than you who you can confide in to help you process through what’s going on in your life. Wise friends will be able to listen to your problems and speak into those hurts, they should speak truth into the negative thoughts you think to yourself.
I believe that real Christians are good people you can talk about your problems with because part of our identity is to be kind and compassionate to others. Our identity changes us to be people who care about others and to be available for them.
Talk to someone about your hurts
So what “not okay” in your life? It’s okay to not be okay. I need you to know that. Is there anything I can do to pray for you? If you can’t trust anyone else, send me a message and I would be more than happy to talk to you.
Who are the friends you can trust? Who are the people you can trust to be open and honest with, to share your hurts and your pains? One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to talk about it. There have been a lot of things that have happened in my life since 2019 started. So much that my boss told me one day that he could physically see my feelings, the dread and depression in my soul were worn like a mask on my face and it could be physically felt even though I said nothing.
But one of the best things that I did was call my closest friends & my mentors, and I talked about it. The more that I talked about it, the more my friends were able to speak truth into my life and even remind me of my core philosophy by asking me the same question that I encourage others to ask.
When we choose to be transparent and talk about our struggles we provide a space for our hearts to heal. Everyone has pain in their life, all fruit goes through its seasons. But if we don’t allow fruit to fall on soil when it dies, it will never leave behind the seed that grows into the new tree.
( Click here to read “Why It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” )