“Hi! Good to see you! How are you?”
“I’m doing good. How are you?”
“Hey. I was thinking about you. Are you okay?”
“Yeah. I’m okay. Thanks for asking.”
Have you ever had conversations like these? If you are breathing and don’t live in a cave chances are that you have. This is the thing though, sometimes when I have exchanges like these and I am the respondent, I am lying through my teeth. I bet chances are that you have too.
Let’s be really honest for a second what if things went like this:
“Hi! Good to see you! How are you?”
“It’s good to see you too. I have missed you. Really I am not that great. My relationship with my girlfriend/boyfriend just went down in flames and I am barley holding it together most days. I feel really lost and hopeless most of the time.”
What would you do? What would you say? Would you feel like a deer in the headlights? Would you feel like that kid? You know the one, last inning, bases are loaded, two outs, two strikes, the team is down by one, and he is starring down the barrel of a curve ball coming right at him. Sweating bullets. BULLETS!! AHHHH!!
Why is it that honesty can be so flipping terrifying? Not only is it terrifying to hear stuff like that but to actually be that honest… that takes serious huevos. For reals. Sometimes I think I would rather lick my floors clean than be honest about my feelings. Am I alone in this? I reckon that I am not. What I am learning though is that to be that honest is necessary. If I am ever going to have relationships that go beyond the superficial and have any real fruit I have to be willing to be the purest version of myself, warts and all.
I don’t currently have literal warts, but I have had them. They are painful. Also let me just say they are not pretty. Warts go deep, and when they die and fall off your skin has a hole where the wart used to be. If you have struggled through any emotional difficulty of any kind it will change you. As you go through the healing process you might have some “craters” left from the “warts.”
The other thing is this: Is it okay not to be okay sometimes?
Recently I went through some serious sh** so to speak. All kinds of hell was breaking loose in my life. Most days I would get into my car after my shift at work and burst into tears and cry all the way home. My commute is typically 35-50 minutes depending on traffic. Sometimes I’d continue to cry for an hour or so on my pillow. I was a mess. I tend to retreat from the world when I feel like I am coming apart at the seams, and I was.
During this time my dear friend Tasha called me and left my a voicemail while I was at work. She was checking to see how I was doing. I called her back thanking her for calling. Because we have been friends for over twenty years I am a bit more comfortable telling her the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God. I told her “You know I am trying really hard to be okay, but I am having a hard time succeeding.”
Her reply was simple and amazing.
“Rachel it is okay not to be okay.” I burst into tears. I so needed to hear that. She went on, “Rachel you have been through a lot of really hard stuff. Any one of them alone would have been hard, but you just got hit with a bunch of crap all at once. It is okay not to be okay right now. Give yourself some time. Take time to process all that has happened. No one expects you to just get over it, and if they do they can come and talk to me and I’ll be happy to explain to them to leave you the hell alone, and kick their ass if need be. Remember that God is here for you and so am I. You aren’t alone.”
This is one of the many reasons why I adore Tasha. She tells me the truth and adds her own little ginger spice in there for good measure. I can’t even describe the relief those words brought to me. I felt free to actually just be a mess for a while. It was okay not to be okay. It was okay to give myself some time to process all my grief. It was okay to take lots of long walks alone and yell and cry to my heavenly Father about all the things that had broken my heart.
It’s been six months or so since all that stuff hit the fan. The dust is finally staring to settle a bit, however it is still pretty hazey. I can’t really see things very clearly and most of the time I still don’t know which way is up, but I am getting through it. Sometimes I am not okay, and that is okay. Give yourself some time to breath and find the ground beneath your feet again. Don’t for the love of God try and force yourself to just get over it already. Now of course there are some instances where someone needs a little kick in the butt, however that is sometimes. I think in our society we try way to hard to be productive and have it all together and all of the time. I think that this attitude is toxic and counterproductive to emotional health. That is nuts! Think about it. We are not in control. The universe is filled with chaos. Nothing, NOTHING is guaranteed. Anything at anytime could happen, and sometimes it does. Life is precious, and it is fragile. Sometimes life will throw you a curve ball and sometimes it will throw a hurricane. When that happens for goodness sake allow yourself the respect and decency to not be okay. The only way to find your way back to okay is to admit that you aren’t. If you don’t admit you are lost then how will you find your way back home?
I am lost. I am searching for the shore. I am not okay, but I am on my way.
The last really crazy amazing thing, is God is okay with that. He is with me. He hasn’t left me. He is in the mess with me. I have been in some dark shocking places and He has been there the entire time. Being in the midst of a mess sucks, but in this mess I am discovering context for this:
“I am with you and will protect you wherever you go, and bring you back to this land. I will never leave you until I have done what I promised you.” -Genesis 28:15
“It is the Lord who goes before you; he will be with you and will never fail you or forsake you. So do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8
“…for he has said, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.” -Hebrews 13:5b
I am learning that God is really, really, REALLY good. If I had run from this mess or denied its existence I would not be learning that to the deepest places of my heart. God did not cause this mess, but He is bringing beauty to me from the ashes of it. He is so very good. -R.
© 2015 Rachel Anne Redfield