How are you doing? Are you OK today? I hope your answer is “Yes,” but even if it’s “No,” I want you to know something. It’s something that an old friend once taught me, and it made a world of difference on a very hard day. Sometimes it’s OK to not be OK.
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“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2 – NIV
“Ricky put his hand on my shoulder. “I didn’t ask about Eric. I asked about you. How are you?”
I just stood there, slowly shaking my head, not knowing what to say. I’ll never forget what he said as his eyes locked on mine. “Anita, this is a big deal, a really big deal. This is the biggest thing that any of the four of us have ever had to deal with. It’s OK to not be OK. You can say how you feel and it’s OK to be honest with us.”*
-APS, from ”Rough Places Smooth: Moments In A Journey Through Blindness”
“It’s OK not to be OK.” Oh, how I needed to hear those words on that long ago autumn day. Just five days earlier, I had sat in that dimly lit exam room and heard the doctor utter the four words that I will never forget, ”You are legally blind.” All I could say at the time was “What? How can that be? That can’t be right.”
Five days later, when my friend Ricky showed up, I was still arguing with the doctor in my mind. “This can’t be happening. This can’t be real!”
My world was falling apart, but I was trying to be strong. I was determined to be tough. I couldn’t let my guard down. I couldn’t show people how I really felt. Everyone was feeling so miserable about my situation. My loved ones were heartbroken. How could I let them know the depth of my own despair?
The need to protect my loved ones was fierce. I had to take care of them. I couldn’t let them down by unraveling before their eyes. I had to look OK. I had to act OK..
But I wasn’t OK. I wasn’t even sure if I would ever be OK again.
Without a doubt, I needed to be honest with someone. Ricky was the first person who managed to break through my wall of defenses and get me to open up. I would learn to do that better with time, but in those early days, I held a vice grip on my emotions. It wasn’t healthy, but it was the only way I knew to get through the horror of the situation.
“As Eric and I watched the two of them drive away, I stood remembering Ricky’s words. “This is a big deal, a really big deal.”
I thought to myself, “Yeah, it is. It really is. I just don’t know if I can do this. How in the world are we going to do this?”
As if to answer the question, Ricky’s words flowed into my mind once more. “It’s OK to not be OK.”*
-APS, from “Rough Places Smooth”
What about you? Are there hurts that you have buried deep, steadily shoveling them down, refusing to allow them to see the light of day? Are there emotions that you need to talk through with someone, but are so afraid to share?
Friend, I get it. I’ve been there. But I’m here to tell you that sharing your grief is so much better than bottling it all up. When you let the grief out in the open, you can begin your journey toward peace. Holding the hurt inside doesn’t help. Healing begins when we finally recognize that, “Loss is loss, no matter the cause, and we must grieve it to get beyond it.”**
Phone a friend today. Make time for a real chat, not the superficial kind, but a real talk about real problems. Your friend may not have the answers, but he or she can listen.
Even better, find a Christian counselor who will listen to your concerns and offer sound advice. There is something about spilling your guts out to an objective third party that is so freeing. Counseling can help you see your situation from a new vantage point, offering a fresh perspective that is so hard to grasp on your own.
Maybe you’re not in that troubled place today, but perhaps you have a friend who is struggling with something. Find that friend. Invite him or her to have a cup of coffee or a glass of sweet tea with you. Be the kind of friend who shows up and asks the question, “How are you doing?“ Let your friend know that you really want the real answer. Don’t be afraid to say that, ”It’s OK not to be OK.” Who Knows? Your words might be the very thing that makes it all OK once again.
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Galatians 6:10 – NIV
O Gracious Lord, meet us where we are today. Heal our hurts. Bind up our broken hearts. Thank You for the friends who stand in the gap for us. Help us to be there for our friends when they are hurting. Give us the right words of comfort to share in moments of sorrow and distress. Above all, let us cling to the promise that You are with us always and forever.
In the Faithful Name of Jesus, we pray,
*Excerpts from Chapter 2 of “Rough Places Smooth: Moments In A Journey Through Blindness”
** Quote from “Bearing My Cross” in Chapter 18 of “Rough Places Smooth”
© 2022 by Anita Peden Sherer
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