About the Author

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, heart-encourager, and grace-needer. She's the best-selling author of "A Confident Heart" and her new book, "A Confident Mom" is releasing Fall 2021. Renee is also the familiar voice of a friend to women around the world as former Proverbs 31 Ministries' radio co-host and executive...

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  1. Renee,
    For many years I walked around with a mask on. My mask said, “I’m fine. I’ve got my act together. I’m confident. I don’t need any help…..” Thanks to God’s goodness He did give me a thorn in my side – one that made me too weak to continue to put on the mask (at least with Him). It sent me running, fleeing into the arms of my Heavenly Father. I was sobbing and needing to just climb into the lap of my Abba – Daddy. He didn’t chide me, but held me and loved me and in my weakness. I allowed myself to be comforted. Gradually, I’ve learned to take off my “I’m fine mask” with others and oh what a relief it’s been. When I allow myself to be weak and vulnerable, I am, in essence, giving them permission to be weak and vulnerable too. That’s why we need connection. We don’t need it to get home decorating tips, we need it in order to do this thing called life. Now when people ask me, I’m not afraid to share that I’m struggling and could use some prayer in certain areas of my life. I don’t tell strangers, but I find when I share my prayer requests it encourages others to take off their mask and share their’s too. Great post!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • Bev,
      I know what you are saying. Three month ago today my beloved husband of 21/2 years went to be with the he Lord. There are days when I miss him so much. I need to talk to others about my pain and not hide it. I’ve been going to Grief Share and it helps. I need to let the Lord guide me and to “climb into the lap of my Abba” and let him love me.
      Amen
      Mary

      • Dear Mary, I am sorry for your loss and I pray that you will feel the presence and comfort of God on days that you need him the most. Sending you hugs and prayers across the internet.

      • Mary, I can’t even begin to imagine the loss you have experienced, but am thankful for your words today that give us all guidance for how to live in the midst of loss.

      • I am so sorry Mary. The loss you’re walking through is heartbreaking. So grateful for Griefshare and that you’ve found a safe place to talk through the pain. Praying for God to surround you with His comfort and give you His strength. And for friends to take your hand and stay close by your side as you find your way through the valley. He is with you. He will carry you. And we are here for you, too.

      • Mary,
        Lifting you up in prayer right now and from the comments, I see that others are doing the same. Crawl into the arms of your Abba, but know we are right here for you too – shoulders to lean on and cry on. We may not know your exact pain, but chances are we’ve been laid low by other pain in our lives. These are the times we need each other the most. So glad you shared and let us know you are “un-fine” and we will carry you.
        Blessings, hugs, and love,
        Bev

      • Mary I was a leader for grief share when my brother died at 49. I’m so skrry for your loss. God is our strength. Amen

      • Mary, my heart breaks for you for the loss of your husband. I have heard of GriefShare and it sounds like a beautiful place of support and the Lord’s love. May our Lord bring such healing grace for you there, encouraging and lifting you up through His love and those He surrounds you with 🙂 So many hugs to you!

      • Mary,

        So sorry sweet sister! May God give you peace and comfort each day! Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to pray for you right now right here! I will continue to lift you up. Know that you have a shoulder to cry on here. I will always listen & never condemn or judge! Praying you feel Abba Father’s arms around you always!

        ((((((((((Hugs)))))))))) from upper E. TN

    • I agree Bev. I think a lot of times we’re afraid to be “un-fine” because it feels safer to be strong or at least act strong. Yet, it’s exhausting. We can do this alone. God created us to need Him and each other. My prayer is that through the message of Craving Connection, we’ll become so safe and secure in Christ, we’ll gain the strength courage to be “un-fine” with others so they see that it’s ok, to be weak or struggle in front of us, and Jesus. Oh that we’ll point each other to the One who makes us strong by being a shoulder to lean on, an ear that listens and a heart that leans in and says, I’m with you. xoxo

  2. This is a wonderful story. It gives us all the willingness to share our not fine moments. As a ministers wife, I feel like I have to put on that fine face even though I am broken inside. I have learned if I need to cry and even sob-if people don’t like it they can just walk away. I know I will feel better letting it out instead of holding it in.

    Thank you.

    • Good for you Adria!! The weight of being a woman in ministry can be too heavy to bear alone, and it takes so much courage to let women know you are just like them. I’m proud of you for being willing. Cheering you on in your courage to be “unfine” knowing that eventually you’re going to create an environment where women feel free to be let others know whey they feel weak, so that they can find their strength in Him, and in each other.

  3. Beautiful post Renee. Our vulnerability can be a gift for others. It reminds them that we are all on this same walk together…and no one escapes suffering in this life. But we can lighten each other’s load and help them carry it.

  4. This is me – “Sometimes someone sincerely wants to know and we just don’t want to tell them. That is the place where things get tricky for me. I will tell people I’m fine even when I’m not, because I want to be. I don’t want to be weak and broken. I want to be okay. I want to feel strong, resilient, and courageous.”

    I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in December and have just two short weeks until my surgery. I struggle with how I feel during this whole process (weak, anxious, nervous, fearful), but God showed me that I don’t have to be on an even keel 24/7, and that I CAN let down in front of Him, even if I wish to spare other people. I guess I’ve been striving to feel a constant feeling of some sort, but humanly I can be all over the place in any given period. Renee, what you wrote that I quoted above is exactly how I feel too- I want to sail through this with a “God’s got this” mentality, strong, resilient and courageous, soaring through my days with never a thought as to what’s ahead. But…..I’ve come to realize that that is just not practical to expect for each moment of the day, and while I do feel fine a lot of the time, there are other times when I do not, and that’s okay, as long as I always come back to Him and proclaim the truth that He DOES have this, even if I do not feel it at the moment.

    Thank you for this perfectly timed devotion that so deeply and intimately spoke to me today.

    • Beth, I’m praying for you now as you prepare for surgery!! As a sister in Christ, I just want you to know it’s okay to be up and down; strong one moment and struggling the next. I needed someone to tell me that for so many years, because like you I thought I was supposed to be strong all the time. It was part of a message my mom instilled in me, and what I saw for years in other Christian women.

      But when I look at the scriptures, I see David who is so gut-wrenching honest and as much of a roller coaster as I am. Along with Moses, Peter, sometimes even Paul, and then we see Jesus in Gethsemane struggling like us to want God’s will yet ache through the devastating loss of His reality.

      Let’s be like Jesus and the others, together. Let’s own our weakness like Paul so we can boast about God’s strength, because He’s really all we’ve got, and all we need. He’s near to the broken hearted, and topsy turvy wanting-to-be-strong-but-sometimes-feel-afraid ones, like us. #withyou

      • Reneé- thank you so much for these bold words of encouragement! It’s okay to not be okay- let’s shout it from the mountains! I love that Scripture teaches us this as well. God is our undergirding strength.

    • Beth,

      Praying for you right now. May God guide the surgeons’ hands. Prayers for peace and comfort to overcome you. Know that it is ok to be down one day and up the next. This life is a journey and we weren’t promised a rosy path. Yes! Say God’s Got This – He is in Control! Please share your struggles with others. For me I have the pleasure of praying for you. This is something I cherish greatly. No one really has it all together!

      Father,

      Please be with Beth C right now. She is apprehensive about her upcoming surgery. Give her ace about it. Shower her with your love and grace. Let her know it will be alright. Guide the surgeons’ hands and help them to do their job.

      AMEN!

      (((((HUGS)))))

  5. Please pray for my friend Cindy who has lost her battle with cancer. Please pray the Holy Spirit will give me the words to encourage her when I see her face to face today after this awful news. Please pray her children and husband will accept this news as God’s will. Please pray she can accept this news and keep her faith. Thank you. Your posts always inspire me so I looked you up right away. MAy God bless you.

    • Oh Maria, I am so sorry. For you. For Cindy. For her family. My heart aches and I”m praying. I lost a friend to breast cancer a few years ago, and she left behind three young children. It was heart-wrenching. Carrying this family in prayers today.

    • Maria,

      Sweet Maria-prayers for you, Cindy, her family, etc. May God send His comfort to everyone and bless them with peace. Prayers will be going up now. Know that you and Cindy have a shoulder to cry on here. No judgement or condemnation just an open heart and listening ears!

      ((((((HUGS))))))

  6. Reading your words, I”m convicted of all the times I’ve struggled my way through things without letting others have the blessing of entering into my hard times with me.

  7. Michele I too have struggled many times and chose NOT to let others in, ONE in particular. I do have trust issues and have been betrayed so now I don’t know HOW to connect really. That’s my sad truth and I do get lonely sometimes. All, please pray for me.
    (Renee, thank you for sharing your heart!)

    • Praying for you Shayla!! Our new inCourage book, “Craving Connection,” that this came from is so good, and covers all those hard topics of why it’s hard to trust and how we move past and heal after being hurt, etc. It’s so so so good!!

  8. Those are the exact reasons we give for being fine. And sometimes, I don’t ask because I get the same old stories and even if I am trying to encourage them, I think sometimes there are people who, as crazy at may sound, love their misery. That’s why we need discernment, I have been able to help people I don’t know over the internet by simply hearing the words or the verse, the Holy Spirit gives me, and these women are blessed every time. May I suggest for your daughter, Psalm 81:10, ” Open your mouth and I will fill it with good things. “

  9. “God’s power shows up in our weakness when we’re willing to be real about our struggles and our need for His strength”. Thanks Renee for these apt words. I have struggled for years to basically show others I am “fine” even when I am actually “Un-fine”. I have always been the strong one that takes on other people’s burdens and tries to help them when they are not fine. ….Then I got diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in 2015. 3 surgeries and 6 chemotherapy cycles later, plus news of my sister having Advanced breast cancer, I have learnt that I do not always have to put up that facade of being fine. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to let others see your pain. It’s ok to let others into your world to bear your burdens with you. I am cancer-free now thank God, but my sister is still going through treatment. I thank God for the body of Christ and close friends and family who have held my hands up and continue to do so like Aaron and Hur held Moses’ hands up. I thank God for surrounding me with a community I can share my heart with and just be me and let God’s power be made manifest in my weakness. Some days I am not fine. But I make the most of those days that I am fine because I see and feel God’s power at work in me whether I atmosphere weak or strong.

    • But I make the most of those days that I am fine because I see and feel God’s power at work in me whether I am weak or strong.
      *Please excuse the auto-correct on my phone:)

    • This brought tears to my eyes, because having cancer now myself I can completely relate to what you are talking about. Praise God you are cancer free! I can’t wait to say those words one day. Until then, I’m fine with being un-fine and letting God use others to help me get to fine again.

  10. I struggle with this, too. I live with chronic pain conditions & have become a recluse. My friendships suffer because it’s rare if I can leave my house & I’ve even become uncomfortable calling people because my life is so boring. I definitely know who my real friends are, though. I don’t want to be a downer to others & complain; even the Bible says we shouldn’t complain. I know God has me here for some reason, but I don’t know my purpose or what good I can do for anyone now. I usually just say I’m fine so others will feel more comfortable. But then they will think I can do more than I really can & I’ll feel guilty for it. I’m starting to think God doesn’t want me to keep pushing myself to exhaustion. Maybe because I’ve been through so much & had to be the strong one for so long, He wants me to learn how to depend & lean on others? To be vulnerable & realize my own limitations? I can’t imagine how that could benefit anyone, but He has me here for a reason. Just a thought.

  11. Renee, after reading this I looked through your website to find information about your daughter’s diagnosis. Something about the wording in the excerpt sounded so familiar to me. And then I found it and it made sense…apraxia. My 8 year old son was diagnosed with apraxia at just before 3 years old, and I went through much of what you wrote about. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  12. I always say “I’m okay, I’m always okay ” but in reality I’m shattered inside. I never want to be a burden or take up people’s valuable time so, I fight these horrible battles alone. Having meltdowns at night when my husband is at work and my son is sleeping! I’ve been fighting alone most of my life alone and I’m exhausted!

    • I’ve felt alone so many times as well. As I wept aloud alone. But I felt My Father there, even though I couldn’t see Him, He was there. I kept my pain from my spouse as well, when I opened up it brought freedom for me. He started praying for me, we became more connected through my sufferings. I’m praying for you and remember even though you feel alone you aren’t.

  13. I’ve been walking around with a mask on too. With everyone expect God and my husband. I feel if they know I’m hurting struggling they might be disappointed in me. (From past experiences with my mother and other family members) ( I have bad anxiety that prevents me from going places and doing things with people) every time I miss an important event or party they get really upset with me. I don’t know how to let my guard down. I don’t know if I should, they don’t offer me prayers or support. Instead they get angry with me, that anxiety shouldn’t rule my life. I wish it was a switch I could turn off. But it’s a battle for me, it was gone for 4 years but it came back. I’m disappointed in myself. I’m tired of disappointing others. I’m tired of this revolving door. I know my Loving Father is with me. That’s where I find my peace.

  14. Renee, thank you for this posting that was a breath of His grace. As I read the posts and how there are so many of us that have a hard time letting down our masks, our guards in order to be vulnerable and dependent on the Lord, I am reminded on how much our broken world leads us into this stoicism, this false ego security of strong. I have had many emotional blows lately that have made it hard to face the pain of rejection when being vulnerable with others about these pains. But He keeps helping me to reach out and be vulnerable, to share and pray and hold. Please pray for my mom and for me because I can’t be strong for her anymore and that just hurts, I’m too tired.

    As I type I realize that as our Lord endured His passion, how He shows us the way of being strong for as He grew weaker, He depended on Abba so much more. How compassionate our Lord is for He never leaves us and is always there with, as Bev said :), His arms and lap open for us to crawl into, bringing us here to lean and depend on each other as we carry each others burdens. For each dear sister here, you are loved and cherished (Brenda, Annie…)! May we each bring our pains and burdens to our loving Lord and to each other that we can hold each other and bring His loving, healing grace to each other 🙂

  15. Renee,

    Your post reminded me of a song “Give Thanks”. It says “And now let the weak say I am strong. Let the poor say I am rich because of what the Lord has done for us”. When we are weak then God can work with our weakness to make us strong. Last January I had a major trial with my aging dad and his severe dementia. I was scared and immediately turned to my church family for prayers. They helped me though that trial and were there for me. Some called and checked on how things were going. God worked a miracle and healed my dad. I couldn’t be “just fine” during that time. My face would show the emotions. Now when I ask people how they are doing I really want to know. I love the privilege of praying for people and seeing God work in their lives.

    We need to take off the masks and let others in. God wants us in community to pray for each other. Please everyone take off the masks and tell us how you are doing.

    Blessings 🙂

  16. Renee, after reading this, I am happy to be apart of this great group of women, who are not afraid to pray for one another especially when they are hurting. Sharing our feeling is so important, so we are now able to open up when someone asked us if we are okay. Renee Please pray that God will give me the will power to face my weakness, to open up when someone asked me if I am okay? I am happy to be apart of this circle where ladies encourage each other. thank you so much.

  17. Renee, thank you for this post. It home for me when I read it a few days ago, and I’ve continued to think about it throughout the week.

    The Lord has recently opened my eyes to the fact that I’m not as vulnerable with my friends as I thought. Just last week, I was really struggling, and I had a coffee date on the calendar with the women in our community group. I knew I would show up and smile and say, “I’m fine.” I actually texted them the day before and confessed that I was struggling and they would need to make me talk about it. 🙂 It was a beautiful evening of encouragement. And I hope we will all grow in our courage to say out loud, “I’m not strong. I’m weak, and I need you to remind me of the truth, because I’ve forgotten.”

    Thank you for reminding us we’re not alone in our weakness and that God’s power meets us there.