About the Author

Kristen writes at her parenting blog, We Are THAT Family and is author of Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Safe Sparkly Faith is No Longer Enough and founder of The Mercy House. Follow Kristen on twitter as @WeareTHATfamily.

Recent Posts

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Eeks – already this week’s (in)courage contributing writers are digging deep into my heart and pulling out muck. It’s been raining a lot here, and so when I weed the garden I pull up a lot of mud with it. That’s how I feel with how God’s cultivating my heart this week. He isn’t just pulling weeds, He’s pulling out the mud (and yuck of my fears!).

    I worry that I’m too intense for people. And I get concerned that I’m just too much and they really don’t care…especially once they discover who I really am (…who, as it turns out…is just a girl in need of love and grace, encouragement and affirmation…just like the rest of ’em!).

    There are only a very few people who I’d venture to be honest with. And only a very few who can see straight through to my heart, even when I try to put a mask on – smile a “welcome” smile – and then quickly put up my “Do Not Enter!” sign.

    This week I’m doing a series on my blog about one specific friendship that I have, and how God has shown love and grace through this relationship – bringing us to a place where we’re “real” with each other, and where we see Him in all things. It’s been healing for me in so many ways. Isn’t writing always?

    Rich blessings, Kristen…

  2. I used to wear that same sign–welcome but do not enter. I still do with a lot of people but God has put a few people in my life over the past 3 years that have helped me to take down that sign and replace it with–welcome, can I talk to you? These people are all from my church family that I really didn’t believe I was part of, I was an outsider coming in so I stayed quiet. On purpose. My life was a wreck and I thought no one in their right mind really wants to know the real me! So I hid behind a mask and lived 2 lives. Church and home. I knew it wasn’t right, I knew how badly I wanted a friend to confide in, someone to ask advice, someone to hear me. God knew all that. I thought I was telling him but I learned through these women and one man that I was not being real with God. I still held him at arms length just like everyone else in my life because that was safer in my mind. God gave me a family, slowly over time at specific times/issues. This family replaced the family I didn’t have. The blood family that walked away from me because of differences of opinion over race–that was their excuse. He gave me an older sister who took me under her wings, she cared about me, she talked to me and gave me lots of great advice. God in turn worked in me and every single brick in that wall surrounding me came crashing down and I believe she knows everything there is possibly to know about me! She is the 1 person I trust with my complete heart, all my dark secrets of my past, all my fears and all my hopes/dreams. God gave me a brother and sister in law/girlfriend, nieces and nephew. He gave me a woman who is only 15 years older than me but has the feeling of being my mom. She is who he gave me to run to when I needed to cry and collapse into her arms as she sat and held me one night when I felt I just couldn’t go on any longer. I am thankful that God changed the wording of my sign because he has shown me that people do care and they do want to know the real answer to -how are you today?

  3. As someone who sometimes stuggles with conversation, I parrot back things I’ve heard. When someone says “how are you” I don’t really think, as a reflex I just say “I’m fine how are you?” It’s so much harder to find words that actually answer the question.

  4. Thanks for sharing from your heart.
    The line you used “I’ve convinced myself the person asking doesn’t really want to hear that I feel isolated in my journey, overwhelmed in the task, scared of the unknown, struggling with the calling.” really hit me. It is nice to know that others feel the same way I do at times.
    I think women are good at wearing the masks or having the attitude of just toughen up and press on through things.
    I am learning to be open with God and allow him to heal me. As you stated, He already knows what we feel, all that is going on in our lives. He is the only one that has the answers we need but it sure is nice when he allows us to have those friendships where we can share in safety knowing that friend will listen and NOT judge. I am grafeful for such a friendship.

  5. This is good, I absolutely love it. I have been so desperate for Jesus lately, and the other day in church he whispered, “It’s okay to cry out for me every single day if you need to.” Just knowing He truly cares about the burden we’re carrying and the troubles weighing on our hearts is enough to bring tears to my eyes. How loved we are – yet so unworthy. I know I am.

    Thank you for sharing. I needed that this morning.

  6. Masks and pretending sometimes take over in survival mode. Hoping that I am genuine more than not. I know that I struggle to keep from shutting people out. Great post even wo giveaway. 🙂

  7. Hey Friend, you’ve been in my thoughts and prayers a lot lately. Thank you for letting us into your heart, your world, your mission through your words. Sending a hug your way today…

  8. yeah. this is exactly what i needed to hear today. thank you, kristen – and, i’ve been praying for you & mercy house kenya & maureen. so thankful for you bringing us into this story God’s given you.

  9. This is GREAT! I chuckled outloud at the picture, and then was totally drawn into the truth behind the rest of the post. I love how you ended with Jesus, because although I know not everybody wants to hear my sad story-I sometimes forget the obvious, that Jesus ALWAYS wants to hear and respond. Thanks for that perfect reminder.
    Bless you,
    Sherri Ohler

  10. This seems to be a theme in everything I’m reading this week. Authenticity, especially in the times of trial. I do want to caution us though, that sometimes giving the minimal (not fake, but minimal) answer to the question can be a great benefit to us.

    Like if we’ve had a really bad couple weeks, feel like everything is spinning out of control and we just can’t seem to get it to come back into control. If someone would ask how are you doing, answer with, not too well, things have been rather crazy lately, depending on their response to that can be a good indication on whether they really want to know, or if they’re just asking to be polite.

    I do love this post. And I love the reminder that Jesus always wants to hear our heart condition from us even though he already knows it.

    Thank you.

  11. Oh wow, this is incredibly convicting and so very true. Out of the mouth of babes, right? My daughter is almost 2 and I have already learnt so much from her. I can’t always articulate it at the moment but I always find that she teaches me something every day.

    I want to wear a “Welcome, come inside and make yourself at home” sign on my heart.

  12. I can’t tell you what seeing your heart in (in)courage emails has done for me… given me the privilege to know you and pray for you and those you love. thank you so much for taking the do not enter out of the equation those days. it blessed me.

  13. Welcome! Do not enter. Ahh, the story of my life!

    Our kids are so good at pointing out things we need to work on without even trying aren’t they?

  14. Oh, wow, this is such a common phenomenon with today’s women! I write about it quite a bit at my blog as well. We are so bad to wear the happy face and make everyone think that we are okay, when in reality we are falling apart inside! Oh that we could trust enough in the grace of God and the love of others around us to take off our masks and admit our pain to one another!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Bernice
    Letting go of who I thought I was supposed to be

  15. great post! … it used to be easier for me to keep emotions to myself, but thankfully I have a few close friends that I finally feel comfortable being open with. Everyone needs that outlet, keeping everything in makes me crazy! 🙂

  16. Thank you for opening up. I feel like I have that message written across my forehead. Vulnerability is terrifying, but it helps to remember that there is One with whom it’s not quite so scary 🙂

  17. that should be my motto. or my slogan. or a tattoo i put on my forehead. welcome, but do not enter. that sums me up. i’m the friendly girl who’s behind the wall. it’s taken me years to build it. everyone thinks they know me and yet no one really does. thanks for writing this post and making me see that though i’ve chosen this way of life, i don’t have to stay this way!

  18. So true are those words. People ask how I’m doing of course I answer I’m fine. Perish the thought if they cOuld see my heart. How the missing piece sometimes makes me feel that it’s all going to break into millions of pieces. How I wake some mornings and the first thought in my head is oh no not again.

  19. I have just one person in my life who knows all my heart, broken, tattered, torn. ive even put God in the corner because i’m mad at him again, where he speaks clearly so i can hear but its not the same as a pair of arms that hold hold you.

  20. Great post Kristen. I am enjoying your book as well – thank you. Wonderful laughs and brings back many memories from my own family.
    Blessings,
    Jan

  21. I have so been there! Thanks for this insight into this sensitive and yes often awkward moments we have with friends and family who ask us “how are you today”. Next time I get that question I will pause and answer in truth.

  22. I am in a period of grief right now… for a recent loss and for some long-ago losses that seem fresh for whatever reason. Just once, when somebody asks how I am doing, I would like to be able to say, “I am desperately longing for heaven”, and that would be enough. I wouldn’t get a strange look or multiple questions. Nobody would worry that I wanted to hurt myself (I don’t) or say that I was crazy for thinking that heaven would be better than staying here (it is). It just creates so much extra work to be honest, so I just say, “I’m fine.” I wish it wasn’t like that.

  23. I needed this! I’m so guilty of pasting a smile and parroting, “Fine! How are you?” and then moving on. I need to be willing to tell the truth about how I’m feeling, and help others share how they are truly feeling by being a good listener.

  24. […] For When Your Words Don’t Match Your Heart – {in}courage I don’t answer the question How are you? because I’ve convinced myself the person asking doesn’t really want to hear that I feel isolated in my journey, overwhelmed in the task, scared of the unknown, struggling with the calling. […]

  25. Kristen,
    I struggle, because I’m a very “Welcome, come on in!” kind of person, but sometimes I’ve felt I shared too openly, too much, or maybe the “ugly” came out. I’ve regretted, I’ve shared and I needed to, but maybe at the wrong time, to the wrong person? Embarrassed, feeling too vulnerable, I’ve pulled back inside of my shell. Feeling all alone. God has called me to pour out my heart to Him. He will always listen, understand, put my heart back together, cleaning out the arteries of the “gunk,” the pride, envy, worry, bitterness, and everything which is making my heart unhealthy, sin-sick, and not able to work as it should.
    I’ve learned, though, that we all need encouragement, we all have pain, or are struggling with things, maybe not at the same time, or to the same level, but more than we know. I’ve realized that when we answer, “Fine,” to “How are you?” often it means Feeling In Need of Encouragement (F.I.N.E.). That’s why I a few weeks ago I started my Monday meme, “Mondays are G.R.E.A.T. (Glad Rejoicing Encouraged and Thankful).”
    While reading Psalms I noticed over and over that God “commanded” His people to “Be glad and rejoice!” And in the N.T. “Give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you.” That shouldn’t be hard, I thought. It took work, though. Convicted, I started *looking* for the ways He is encouraging me, for the things He’s doing that I’ve been ignoring, which are meant to cause gladness in my heart. I rejoiced over those expressions of His love which He’s already shown and I purposed to remember them and be glad, *and to share that encouragement with others*!
    It’s a risk to reveal ourselves, to be sure, and we must extend grace to one another, and really listen. When I look for and remember the little encouragements He’s given and the little “love notes” He’s left for me throughout the week, I have much which I’m able to share that will encourage the hearts of my sisters, as well as myself.
    I’m so glad you shared your heart today, and opened up. We are walking this path together–you are not alone. I’ll take off my mask and let you know the real me, with your encouragement. Please, everyone, Welcome and Do come in.
    Thanks, Kristen,
    Many blessings,
    Wendy

  26. Its good to know there are others in the world that feel the way I do as far as opening up..this is a really great post.we are not alone GOD knows what we need before we need it all he wants us to do is COME TO HIM..i often pray for wisdom and understanding.sometime I feel lost, and afraid of just being myself so I have built this stone wall up in front of my heart,afraid of wht others think n feel about the REAL me.this sign should be stampted on my forehead “WELCOME” because im a friendly person thats fun to b around and Im a great listener.then “DO NOT ENTER” because I dnt know who I can trust because ive been betrayed by alot of ppl even the closest ones to me and I have a wall up im the girl who can smile and brighten someone else day when in the inside im crumbling and i cant even brighten my own.God is good he dnt want us like this ladies..just pray for me.and im praying for u all as well 🙂

  27. this is a really great post.we are not alone GOD knows what we need before we need it all he wants us to do is COME TO HIM..i often pray for wisdom and understanding.sometime I feel lost, and afraid of just being myself so I have built this stone wall up in front of my heart,afraid of wht others think n feel about the REAL me.this sign should be stampted on my forehead “WELCOME” because im a friendly person thats fun to b around and Im a great listener.then “DO NOT ENTER” because I dnt know who I can trust because ive been betrayed by alot of ppl even the closest ones to me and I have a wall up im the girl who can smile and brighten someone else day when in the inside im crumbling and i cant even brighten my own.God is good he dnt want us like this ladies..just pray for me.and im praying for u all as well 🙂

  28. great post, revealing to the marrow of our souls where we live, love and feel deeply. since i am a give you all of me person…which means i can be intense and God has had to teach me how to be discreet, not deceptive but wise at how much I tell those who ask me, how are you doing. Not hiding the real me but being careful what I risk telling that I don’t trample on others or someone trample on me. I find this so hard for in my thinking if it helped me then i assume it will help others. I never want to be known as the victim but the victorious. So I pray that i will hear that still small voice that say, “hush”. I have been told i was too real and at first thought that was a compliment but as i grew with the Lord i realize i am not suppose to be real, He was….He is to come shining through whatever state I find my self in. I am so thankful for sisters in the Lord who have loved the real me, whiny, harsh, too strong, tackless but a work in progress at 64, honest girls He never stops this wonderful Lord of ours working on us. He just wants to crack our clay pots a little more so He can come shinning through. Less of me, more of Him.