“Are we okay with not being okay?” That was the question that struck me to the core this past weekend at a conference I was attending. Though we do not need to bare all to all, how hard do we work to keep up appearances? We put on a smile and parade through the day as if we were truly enjoying the sunshine.
The inside tells a different story. Have you been there? I’ve been stuck in a dark place recently and have done my best to hide the depression and the waterfall of tears that seemed to be permanently camped behind my eyeballs. I have an inner circle of people who I can trust with anything, but voicing the truth even to them seemed too daunting. Time with God was empty (probably because I wasn’t willing to come before Him with an open heart).
Pretending takes a lot of effort. It is exhausting and nauseating. It usually results from pride. “I’ve got this. I can handle this on my own.” Or, “No one else needs to know because…” and the reason usually boils down to something about me. My reasons may seem justifiable, but anything that takes me out of community with God and others is not beneficial.
Here’s the thing: God calls us to relationship with Himself and others in the good and the bad times. He knows our thoughts before we think them (Psalm 139:2). He knows when we’re not okay and it’s alright to say that to Him. He wants us to cry out to Him even when it’s ugly. He’s our Father. He wants to wipe our tears. He is the Comforter and Counselor.
At the conference, God quickly made it clear that I was there by divine appointment. I finally came to Him willing to admit that I have not been okay. I told Him I needed Him and that I can’t do this on my own.
I found rest in being real with God and a few people that I can fully trust. Sometimes we just need to be reminded that it’s okay not to be okay. We have a safe Place where we are free to admit the pain, sadness, weakness, despair, or whatever it is that has left us in a cloud so thick that we can not see ahead.
I love the story of Joseph. There were so many events in his life that didn’t seem fair. Despite being an upright man, he experienced injustice, betrayal, and suffering for years. At the end of his story, Joseph was a politically powerful man and he stood before the very men who catapulted him in a series of unfortunate events. They were his brothers, who had hated him, and they trembled in fear of how they might be punished. Joseph saw the big picture and he said to them, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Gen. 50:20).
There was a purpose behind his pain. Through one man, God reached an entire nation.
In our times of darkness, we can find hope and peace in being confident that there is a purpose behind the pain and it is good. You see, “your” story isn’t about you at all. You are a part of HIS story and, ultimately, it’s all about His glory so that all may know Him.
There are many who know about a god but they don’t know God. They are unfamiliar with the God of the Bible and do not know what is true because they unfamiliar with the things He has said and done. God wants to use us to broadcast Himself to a dying world.
Maybe we need to ask God to give us the courage to admit when we’re not okay. Maybe we need to ask Him for a willingness to be more authentic with each other. God doesn’t call us to waltz through life trying to convince everyone that we are capable of holding it all together. God calls us to be genuine in our faith because, when we are, people don’t see us. They see God at work in us.
So I’m throwing my “okays” aside. I am not okay. I am a weak. I need Jesus. Can I tell you about Him?