Recently, I had a revelation and thought I should probably share it with you, because you’re the type of people who care about community.
You understand the importance of doing life together and bearing one another’s burdens. You are invested in each person playing her part in the body of Christ, as we work together toward the kingdom of God. And you value relationships and authenticity. We all do, don’t we?
So, we get involved with a small group or a play group or a church group or a book club, and we find ourselves building friendships. We go out to lunch and we exchange recipes. We pray for one another and we celebrate with one another. We learn that some of us are extroverts and some of us are introverts. Some of us need down time and — every now and then — we all need a little bit of me time.
And so, we go on vacation or to the spa or we schedule a quiet afternoon at the library, all alone. We get energized by the little break and time to regroup, and then we step back into our lives once again — better at it, thanks to the time away.
But, we are not meant for life alone.
Right from the beginning, God modeled the very best kind of relationship for us when, working together, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit spoke the world into existence and then made a human being and decreed it wasn’t such a good idea for this one person to go it alone. We need partners and sisters and friends and lovers, and we need to be those things for one another. It is the way we were made. It is what we were built for. We were built to love God, and we were built for loving one another well.
Sometimes, however, we accidentally become the fine people. The people who are strong and who have it all together.
We don’t mean to be sending mixed messages. We really don’t. We just have a hard time admitting we need help. Or that we’re lonely. Or that we’ve slipped over the edge of sadness and can’t find our way back. We’ve gotten so used to our schedule and our agenda and our strength and our skills that we forget what it feels like to hold our two hands in the shape of a “T” and to say to whomever will listen, “Hey. Can you help me? I’m struggling, here.”
Instead, when people ask us how we’re doing, we say, “I’m fine.” See? Accidental Fine People. We really don’t mean to be that way, but sometimes it happens.
So, that’s one thing.
But, the other thing is this:
Sometimes, we are not the Accidental Fine People. Sometimes, we are the friends of people who have accidentally cast themselves as fine people.
And sometimes, we accidentally take those people at their word, even when our gut tells us differently. We don’t see that person in church for a few weeks, or they don’t show up to book club for a couple of months in a row and we are tempted to let it slide, even though we feel a tug on the inside to give them a call or drop a card in the mail. Or, we do call them, and — even though we hear a catch in their voice when they tell us, “I’m fine. It’s all good.” — we are tempted to ignore the urge we have to drive over right then and stand on their front porch to look them in the eye and give them a heartfelt hug.
These are the things we were made for. We were made to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and that’s not just a metaphor.
It doesn’t always take a grand and complicated gesture to step in where an act of friendship is needed. Sometimes, all it takes is a few minutes to follow through on that little nagging feeling you have in your gut. Sure, your friend may be telling you she’s fine, and maybe she really is, but what could it hurt to Vox her with a prayer of encouragement, or to show up at her workplace with a single orange balloon, or whatever else your heart may be telling you to consider?
The goal, of course, is not to pry and get all up in her business if she’d rather not have you there. The goal is to simply be a friend who loves at all times.
If you’ve had a feeling in your gut, or in your heart, and you’ve been thinking that maybe you should check in on so-and-so, or drop a card in the mail to a certain friend of yours, consider this an affirmation of your instinct and an invitation from the One who made us for relationship. Step away from these words and follow through. You know who you are, and these are the things we were made for.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I have a friend like this…she is going through a lot (some of it is good like her daughter getting married), but when you add up everything on her plate, it’s a lot. I look at how she’s handling it all and I think, if that were me, I’d be coming unglued right about now. I have offered meals, to do her laundry and ironing, to run errands, you name it and it’s all politely refused with a smile and “I’m fine”. Then, I think it’s me…that I’m just not as strong as she is?? I guess I need to just show up on her doorstep with a meal. Thanks for the encouragement to keep following my gut…
Bev – you sound just like I feel….I have recently (and not-so-recently if I’m really honest) been comparing my strength to others’ perceived-by-me stoic-ness. I know a gal who is currently in the midst of cancer tests to determine the best course of treatment for her going forward, and yet her Instragram pics shows her smiling and carrying on with her life (and I know she is TRULY smiling because I know her well) and I think – where is my faith? I don’t think I could be rejoicing in anything right now if that was me. And my family has recently been through a horrible ordeal, and although it had a happy ending, we are living with the residual fallout of that ordeal and I am finding myself bitter and unappreciative regardless of the enormity of what we were spared as a family. Even the fallout is better than most experience when they go through similar circumstances! This season is certainly opening my eyes to where I need to grow, what it means to live by faith, and to know what it’s like to constantly ask God to transform me by the renewing of my mind.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
When I get in my “anyone could do a better job at my life than me” moods, my husband is always good to remind me that others are very good at wearing masks for a multitude of reasons. Me, I don’t have a very good poker face so I tend to be more vulnerable with others with my struggles. This is not a terrible thing, because as, he points out, this makes me more approachable. Also, even if my constitution isn’t as “strong” as others…my life lets people know where my true strength comes from – also not a bad thing. I say these things to encourage you that you are A-Okay just as you are and as people see you live out your struggles, you are building an awesome testimony to the power of the Lord in your life. Lifting you up in prayer…
Love this conversation!
I think there’s something to be said for letting others help us. It gives the other person an opportunity to live into the gifts God has given them. But, I also know, for me, it’s so hard to accept the help.
Not long ago, I was really sick — for a couple of weeks. I had some kind of awful virus and, just when I thought I was about to kick it, I came down with strep. I was beaten down — physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. My dear friend kept checking in on me, and I kept saying I had it under control, even though I was truly losing it. “Stay away!” I told my friend. “You don’t want to get my germs!”
But, one afternoon, my phone notified me that my friend had left me a Vox. She told me she’d dropped something off on my doorstep. I made my way to the door, and there was a beautiful arrangement of daffodils! Not long after that, I started asking for help. I asked a dear group of sisters to pray for me, and I could practically feel their prayers rising to heaven on my behalf, even though we all live in different parts of the country. Sometimes, it’s that one act — like daffodils on the front steps — that opens us up to realizing we really do need help; we need each other. I’ll be praying for you and your friend, as you follow your gut. 🙂
Deidre, Thank you for this message that I needed to hear. I have been hearing that voice in my head to reach out to a friend who I know is struggling. I do have a lunch set up with her this week and I pray that I am the hands and feet of Christ to her and that He gives me the words she needs to hear to know that she is loved and treasured…and that she doesn’t need to do life alone!
Gretchen, your friend will be blessed just to spend some time with you. God will be God, because that’s what he does. And you will be you — a gift and a blessing to your sweet friend. Grace to you, and have a blast with your friend at lunch!
Angela Nazworth says
Oh I love this Deidra! I’ve been the accidentally fine too often and have ignored the accidentally fine too often because I ignored that inner voice. Thank you for this reminder.
Me too. On both counts, sister.
Inspired Life says
I am the director of a women’s group at my church and at every meeting I would encourage the ladies to call one another during the week for pray and encouragement. For years no one ever called me (mind you I told them ‘me included’). I don’t know if they were uncomfortable or thought I wouldn’t need prayer but surely I’m the 1st in line who’d appreciate that call. It is so important to follow the Holy Spirit’s prompts to connect with people when and how me whispers because it is in the small steps that we partake in answering prayers and performing miracles. Blessings to you today friend.
What a great encouragement to give the women in your care! You said, “For years no one ever called” you. Did they eventually take you up on your encouragement (I’ve got my fingers crossed over here, hoping, hoping, hoping).
Here’s what I know about myself: if I don’t act on something like this right away, the further away I let myself get from the moment, the more likely I am to not follow through.
Deidre- I am an accidental fine person. Hence in a time like now, when I’m going through terrible times of struggle and dealing with deep emotional pain, I’m not sure anyone is picking up on that (except my immediate family because I can let down at home.) I don’t want to be a burden, yet feel like I’m looking for a lifeline anywhere I can find one. It’s a difficult balance to maintain- keeping up a good front and yet being real so that others can help. And then, there’s the disappointment that enters when others DO know but never check back, check in, check up, and you feel the isolation that comes when others, while well-meaning, are busy with their own lives and all the while you’re still feeling stuck. I need to also be sensitive to that in others’ lives, when I’m the one who knows of someone’s struggle, to be sure I’m keeping up with them as well.
((( Beth ))) Hug. Prayers for you.
Oh, Beth. I hear you, sister. Thank you SO much for stepping up here and letting us know some of the ways we can pray for you!
I can relate. “Feeling stuck” is such a good way to phrase it. Sometimes, when I’m going through something deep like that, it really is too much for my friends to meet my needs, no matter how they try. So (after taking forever to realize I need more than lunch out with the girls, ha!), I reach out for help from someone who has been especially gifted to help, so I can go deeper and let God heal those wounded places. In those times, some of the kindest words my friends have said to me are, “Have you thought about calling your (Christian) counselor?” Over the years, my counselor has become a trusted confidante and a dear spiritual mentor to me.
Praying peace for you, friend. Sweet peace and grace.
I’ve been there, you are not alone, I understand! I started seeing a therapist after a car accident and the emotional trauma. Talk about it, talk about it again and talk about it some more. It will get better!
Love and Blessings,
Thank you, Deidra, for never letting me get away with “fine.” I love you, friend.
Beth Williams says
I have often had that “Holy Spirit” tug on me. I try to ignore it, but it just keeps on tugging until I finally do the “deed”. After doing it I feel wonderful & find out the person needed to hear “I’m praying for you” or some kind of encouragement. Now when I think of someone and hear my inner self say send a card, call them, make a meal I just do it. One thing it blesses me and secondly I know it blesses the other person as well. I have felt that way after receiving cards, or other forms of encouragement!
Your comment makes me smile. Trying to ignore the Holy Spirit. And doing the “deed.” Ha! I totally get it. It’s crazy that it usually takes more energy to convince myself to follow through than it takes to actually do the “deed.”
That was totally me! till a car accident 3 months ago that laid me out. I am not fine and that’s ok. I get that now but it took decades to admit it. I am seeking trauma counseling and confronting things I never wanted to acknowledge because it hurt too d–n much but secrets hurt and so do unacknowledged feelings. It takes emotional courage to face past hurts, neglect or abuse but living in denial hurts much worse. We NEED each other and The Lord. No one is perfect.
Wow. What a great work, Jeanine. “It takes emotional courage to face past hurts…” Amen to that, girlfriend! Thanks for sharing this with us. Praying here, for your full recovery.
Tarasia Schaller says
and sometimes when one IS honest, and one asks…pleads…for help…no one does….
oh, they say ‘if you ever need anything, just call’….or “you’re going through so much. how can you handle all that??”
you call…or you share your deepest pains because you CAN’t handle “all that”….and then there is no more…NO one comes to help..or calls…or writes…or acknowledges you at church….it’s the perpetual life of that “land of misfits” which several people and i “created” 40+ yrs ago…to let one another know we were there for one another…even if no one else within the body was….
now even they are no where….through rejection, or blatant attacks..hurtful attacks…even ones family members (the few remaining that maintain a relationship…from a distance), only re-connect when one is in a hospital bed…or if THEY have a need….
so it truly is MUCH easier, and better for neshama, to say “i’m fine”….to speak anything else is just too painful. the world is full of those who call themselves “christians”…there are few who actually live as though they were.
that is MY life…God and i…and i have no other….it’s been proven far too long….
but who better to have than the One who is all things to all people.
maybe Heaven will have some who truly knew how to be a Christian….cause there aren’t any in the area in which i live….
Tarasia, may our Lord and Savior bring you comfort. This Easter as we were doing our family devotions it struck us particularly how Jesus was abandoned by those closest to him. It hurts when family both our biological and forever family let us down. Nothing hurts as much really as we can make allowances for others but feel our brothers and sisters in Christ should know better. Hang in there sister you are loved. Please forgive our broken church, Christ died for her and we have much to learn. I sent a prayer up for you.
Such sweet words, Christina. What a blessing you are. Thank you for this blessing you’ve spoken over our sister, Tarasia.
Tarasia Schaller says
thank you. forgiving has come easy over these many years…
forgetting is something i have not yet perfected…because it
continues to happen.
i take much comfort in knowing that i DO have my God in my
life…how anyone survives without Him, i do not know.
may His richest blessings be yours as you attempt to understand
the cruelties one can have toward others. i never will! but i can
pray they find the Lord in their bitterness and contempt…because
He is there!
Tarasia, I add my amen to the blessing Christina has spoken over you. I pray for comfort, too, for you. It is a painful thing to feel all alone, as if there is no one on whom you can depend. You are loved. Indeed.
Tarasia Schaller says
thank you for your words of encouragement. they are received…
feeling alone, and being alone, are difficult places to flourish…
but i remain steadfast in my hold on THE One who is my strength,
and source, and being….
Deidra, I needed this post. I have been the accidentally fine person. And I have let friends get away with being accidentally fine people because my life is so busy I haven’t slowed down enough to pray and ask God how to come alongside them.
Your post is perfect, as I’m realizing I want to be more than the one who accepts the, “I’m fine” from someone I KNOW is hurting. Thank you for the exhortation to step out of my busy-ness, at least for a little while, and pray . . . and see how I might help them when they’re hurting.
You know, we’re all learning as we go. Me, included.
Okay, now I’m trying to figure out who God wants me to ask to lunch this week. Going bedside with knees a blazin’ 🙂 Thanks, Deidra!
Haha! That sounds wonderful!
Results: God used you to prompt me to contact someone: a someone I thought was “fine”.
Well, it turns out, that sister-in-Christ, who was in an airport a state away from home, needed a word of encouragement and calm at that moment. We swapped texts about our God Who Knows! Then we discussed the Power of Resurrection Sunday that LIVES with us TODAY and will use us for HIS WILL tomorrow. Joshua 3:5 !
Thanks for being His willing instrument.
Deidre, I thought this was you – you also wrote the post “When Your Child Chooses a Different Way.” I’ve read that countless times and still need it today. Thank you for that post, too.
Ah, yes! I still need that one, too.
Yes. When you feel the urge, ACT on it. I could be a prompting from the Holy Spirit or it might not, but either way you are reaching out. I’ve picked up the phone to call someone I didn’t know all that well and felt a little foolish doing it, but afterward I was glad I made the move. Showing kindness to someone is never a bad thing, is it?.
Isn’t it crazy how, when we set out to bless someone, they end up blessing us? Oh, how I love God’s economy!
Ms. Witi says
This was cute….just kind of made me smile because I could relate to the “accidental fine person” and hearing others reply that way too…I need to be more intune to others and their “fine” moments. 😉
Jenni DeWitt says
Diedra, I started reading Michelle DeRusha’s book 50 Women Every Christian Should Know this weekend. In the acknowledgements, she thanked you for bringing over a chocolate cupcake when she was having a hard writing day. You definitely practice what you preach, dear one! I’m so looking forward to meeting you at the Jumping Tandem Retreat this May. It’s almost here!
Yay! I’m looking forward to finally meeting you!
And, you know what? I’m sure there are people reading this, saying, “She should practice what she preaches.” I don’t always get it. I’m still learning as I go.
Nancy Ruegg says
Wise advice and helpful suggestions, Deidra. What a privilege God has given us to minister to one another! And the greater blessing is ours as we reach out to show our concern. Thank you for your ideas of Voxing a prayer, sending a card, and delivering a balloon(!)–tender ways to demonstrate our love!
I imagine, if we all put our heads together, we could come up with some pretty fun ways to encourage one another!
I was that “fine” woman at church yesterday…trying to hold it together but feeling crushed by my lack of “happy Easter” excitement. I’m thankful a friend saw through it. I like the “accidental” part because it really is. Life feels like it’s going well then suddenly it isn’t. These were good words – thanks for the reminder, Deidre.
You know, we writers are always writing first to ourselves. I needed this message, too. And that’s the truth. 🙂
Heather Riggleman says
I’m gifted at saying “I’m fine.” And rarely am I okay. I’m fear to much of being rejected or being a burden to someone else.
I’ve gotten better at being real and sayjnf how
Shelly Miller says
Thank you for being my person who doesn’t let me get away with “I’m fine.” Love this for so many reasons.
As an accidentally fine person, and also as someone who is highly sensitive, I find that I am feeling far too many things during the week to provide a succinct statement of how I am doing to a person who randomly asks. It’s like I literally don’t have the words or I can’t process all my emotions at one single instant. So, I tell people “I’m alright” or “not bad”. I have men who I trust to tell exactly how I am doing, but they’re few, and talking about what I am feeling usually invites attitudes of dismissiveness among most men.
Yep. Sometimes it’s true that our emotions are too much, even for us to be able to state to someone else. It’s tough to feel as if you have to have it all together all the time. Thank God for those men in your life that you can share your true self with.
Jody Ohlsen Collins says
These wise words confirm what I feel in my gut, too–make that phone call, write that note….ask someone if you can pray a prayer for them. It can make all the difference. I’m so grateful for the Holy Spirit and his promptings that never stop.
Yes. Thank God for the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, I try to make it so much more difficult than it has to be.
I hopped over to check out your blog. What a good word you’re sharing over there! Thanks so much for sharing the message God has given to you!
Karrilee Aggett says
I love this so much… it’s those little promptings that we can so often push aside, ignore, or dismiss that can make all the difference! We must find our brave and hold out our hand… our heart… and offer love and grace and a shoulder if it’s needed! I think we all have a handful of Fine friends… even if they don’t open up, I know the extra support and love means so much to them! (In other news… I am counting down to Jumping Tandem, my friend!)
Tonya H. says
I am the “Accidental Fine” person. I always have been. I have always been there for others, what I seem born to do. Do I like it, yes…and no. Sometimes I don’t want to care, sometimes I feel like shaking them and saying, “Walk it off, I do.”, but that is not going to solve anything. So, I listen, I wait, I ask them what kind of answer(if one) they want from me and go from there. Even though sometimes I feel more messed up than they are, if I don’t make time for them I am being selfish and not thinking of the other person. But if you see me at a weak point, please don’t be nice to me, I can’t stand that, it would completely crush me. And then, although I want to just break down and cry, I put the wall up and end up really angry. I don’t have time for weakness or sickness. I have waaaayyyy too much to do.
I am working on this all, I really am, I am praying and asking for strength to be weak, if that makes any sense what so ever. I take it one day at a time and go from there. I am better than I have been in a while.
Due to my husbands sickness, we have to file for bankruptcy, we get to keep our home, but I can’t go to church right now, if my church family is too nice, or want to help, IT WILL BREAK ME.
But don’t worry, really, I Am Fine.
Sherbie =) says
Thank you for this. =’)
I cannot articulate how perfectly you described the struggle that I have found myself engaged in…
I feel surrounded by “accidental fine” friends… trapped on the outside… desperately hoping for a crack in the armor…
Unfortunately, most people don’t slow down long enough to share the cup of coffee… or have the “real” talks… to share the load.
I ache for community… and it saddens my heart to see the “Body of Christ” seemingly dismembered more and more each day.
Amen! Living Life Together!♡♡♡
Larry Brook says
Love your High Calling piece today. Thanks and blessings.