It’s Okay Not to be Okay

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.—Ephesians 6:2

Most of us put a bit of time into getting ready for church—primping, dressing, making sure our brood looks like the poster family for Christianity. We put our church faces on and we smile. As people pass us and politely ask how we are, we respond, “I’m fine, thanks,” whether we mean it or not.

But what would happen if we were honest—if we honestly wanted to know how someone is, and someone honestly told us? What would happen if we genuinely took the time to care, and people shared their struggles?

I’ll tell what could happen. People would stop and pray for one another. Relationships would be strengthened. Accountability would occur. Our bubbles with which we insulate ourselves would burst, our eye makeup would smear, strongholds would be torn down, and perhaps even revival would break out. This is what happens when we bear one another’s burdens.

This concept has been made more real for me in the past few months, starting with a text message I received as I arrived at church to inform me someone I loved dearly had gone to be with Jesus. I was unable to fight the tears that morning, and I—a Northern-born steel magnolia—reluctantly welcomed comfort.

Around that same time, I saw tears in the eyes of a friend at church, so I stopped to ask how she was and how I could pray for her. She was embarrassed by her tears and told how she fought so hard to hold it together at church, the same church where we should feel most safe and most built up.

Is it part of our church culture, I wonder, that compels us to hide our struggles, which are evidence of weakness? Do we fear others will judge us? Do we believe admitting we have struggles will damage our witness? Do we like to keep a polite distance because relationships are messy and demanding? These are all questions I’ve found myself entertaining.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.—2 Corinthians 12:9

I have tried an experiment lately. On difficult days, I will answer honestly when people ask how I am: “I’m not okay, but God is good.” The first part is an admission of my weakness; the second part is a confession of my faith. When I am weak, He is strong. May the power of Christ rest upon me.

You don’t have to tell the world what your struggles are. We both know that’s imprudent. But it’s okay to let people know you need prayer. It’s okay to admit you’re struggling. It’s okay to admit you’re not okay.

May our churches become havens where God’s children can find healing and grace, and may each one of us be an instrument of that healing and grace.

3 thoughts on “It’s Okay Not to be Okay

  1. Ann Marie says:

    Awesome post, Cheri!
    I will give the automatic response of “I’m fine, thanks!” with most people. There are certain people that I will just unload or dump upon.
    We were raised not to say anything to anyone. It took a lot to finally open up to my best friend in high school.
    I really do care how people are really feeling. I hope that I can listen and give advice with all the compassion of Jesus.
    I love to try to fix things, but I know I can’t.