I was standing in the lobby at church waiting for my husband when a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time walked up and asked how I was doing. Should I be honest? I wondered. What if she’s just asking to be nice? What if I start crying, and she doesn’t have time to listen?
I could keep it simple and say, “I’m fine,” but I knew I’d be lying. I wasn’t fine. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and really sad. Our daughter had recently been diagnosed with significant developmental delays and multiple learning disabilities. And I was carrying what felt like 500 pounds of uncertainty, not knowing what our little girl’s future would look like or how much to share with others because I didn’t want them to see her differently.
It’s hard to let people know how we’re really doing when the burdens we carry aren’t just our own. Sometimes I act like I am fine because I don’t want to seem weak or like a high-maintenance friend. It’s also easy to think people don’t really want to know when they ask. The truth is, sometimes they are just being nice.
But what about those times when someone sincerely wants to know and I still don’t want to tell them? Honestly, there are times when I will say I’m fine because I want to be. I think that by saying that I can somehow move my emotions in that direction instead of dealing with the messy emotions that are bubbling up inside of me. There have been times when I say I’m fine because I think others expect me to be, whether that’s true or not. And there are also days when hormones and sleep deprivation trump all good manners and if my people are within ten feet they know I am not fine. In fact, if I say I’m fine what I really mean is I’m feeling frazzled, irritated, neurotic, and exhausted!
But not in public — not when telling someone how I’m really doing feels like too big of a risk. And that is how I felt that day in the lobby at church. At a pivotal point of decision. Will I be honest and let her see all of me? Should I let her know how I’m really doing?
Everything in me wanted to keep my guard up, my lips sealed, and my heart safe. But I was tired — tired of pretending I was fine. So I took a risk and let my heart, my words, and my tears spill. I shared the hard parts of countless assessments and these unexpected diagnoses, and the fear of not knowing what our girl’s future would look like.
My friend listened and offered to help. She also prayed for me, and then she thanked me for being willing to be honest and let her know what was really going on. Before she walked away, she paused and told me how often she looked at my life and assumed I was fine and had things all put together. But knowing I needed help, prayers and encouragement — and didn’t have it all figured out — made her feel normal.
That day I saw God working His grace and His strength in my weakness, and I was reminded of the promise the Lord had made to the apostle Paul when He told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).
I am learning that when I’m willing to be weak, God gets to be strong. And when I’m willing to be real, others get to see, pray for, and get to know the real me and the real God I desperately need and love.Leave a Comment