“Hi there, how are you?” You ask your friendly acquaintance as you hustle into the store yet again to look for toilet paper. They respond with a small nod, answering, “Hangin’ in there. You?” Now, here’s where it gets tricky. Do you tell them the truth? After all, you know they’re only asking, as we did, out of politeness. You see the impatience in their eyes. Inwardly you sigh, paste on a smile and reply, “Okay. Hoping to find what I need today.” And so it goes. They walk away to carry on with their day, you walk away feeling empty. The weight of the world presses in on your chest making it difficult for you to draw a full breath. You’re not okay. As a matter of fact, you’re the complete opposite of okay! Why did you just say you were when clearly you’re not? Why do we feel compelled to lie about being okay?
The pressure we feel from society to be okay is demanding and can be detrimental to our well-being. Our real well-being, not the pretense we create for others to see — which only adds to the pressure to just be okay! Could fear of the unknown that we are currently facing have the potential to wash away the need our carefully erected façade? We are walking through unfamiliar territory now. The likes of which even my ninety-two year old grandmother has never seen. How can we just be okay? Once we make it through this anxious time, there will be other seasons when we’re not okay! Where do we find peace? Help? Truth?
We read in Scripture, (and even if you’re not sure you believe the Bible, there is truth in this) Jesus tells us that in this world we will have trouble (John 16:33). Expect it. But we don’t want troubles! We want to be okay! However, Jesus Himself even went through extreme suffering. “Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.” Mark 13:32-34 (NKJV). This was just before He was arrested, tried and crucified. Intense torture was to come. Now imagine this very distressing scene with the conversation going like this instead; “Yeah, so,” Jesus pauses, His eyelashes flutter down over His eyes, He inhales deeply through His nose, exhales slowly from slightly parted lips, opens His eyes, puts on a smile, and continues. “All of this is a real bummer, but, yeah, I’m okay. It’s all good.” No! He wasn’t okay! He was about to suffer an excruciating death and admitted He was not okay!
Why can’t we be real like Jesus was here? Stop the pretending just admit, “I’m not okay!” We all need support from time to time, and that’s okay! Taking a page out Jesus’ book, we see here He shared this deepest, darkest torment with His three closest friends. His circle of friends extended out from there, but He left the other eight a ways off (Mark 14:32)— (at this point Judas had gone off to betray Him). The eight knew Jesus was troubled, had heard His prophetic words about His own death and were told to “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” (Matthew 26:36b). Peter, James and John went further with Jesus. They were the three Jesus confessed His greatest anguish to.
Here’s what I discover in this passage; know who you can take your deepest, darkest to! I have a few of those friends in my life and I love them for all we’ve been through together, are going through together now and eventually will go through together! Then there’s the extended circle. These are the people we share our struggles with, just maybe not the deepest, darkest tormenting ones. Then there’s everyone else. Friendly acquaintances at the grocery store, the kids’ coach, your neighbor. People we should still feel free to confess, “I’m struggling,” to but not spilling our hearts out to.
Is it okay to not be okay? I think so. Certainly as you read this, you may be going through one of the most difficult seasons of your lives. An unexpected, gut-wrenching season! So where do you turn? Who can you tell, “I’m not okay!”?
I’d like to encourage you today— there is hope. One day the season will change. Things will shift. I don’t know when, but cling to hope, hope that we can only find in a Savior! “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19a (NIV). When the world is shaken, He is firm and secure! And somehow, along the way, as we gather up the courage and strength to face another day, we find moments to treasure.
I encourage you to seek help immediately if you have thoughts of suicide, self- harm, or are lost in deep depression. Your life has value and you matter! If you are dealing with depression, loneliness, abuse, please seek professional help. There is no shame in getting the help you need to be whole and healthy! You are so loved!
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800)-273-8255
I would also like to encourage you to find someone else to encourage today! Don’t forget the elderly and people without loved ones nearby!