It’s Okay to Not Be Okay…

“So bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine, cause love can heal what hurt divides, and mercy’s waiting on the other side”…Were there ever more beautiful lyrics written?

I love this song for so many different reasons, but probably the biggest reason is because it reminds me of Papa’s unconditional love for me…even when I am completely broken and at my worst, He loves me just as I am. I don’t have to perform to earn it, I don’t have to take part in some sort of spiritual calisthenics to earn it, and I certainly don’t have to be “okay” to earn His love! It is freely given, and He loves me completely right where I am, no matter where that is.

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Another reason I so love this song is because it makes me think of some of the great friends that I have in my life, and how when I get together with these individuals, it’s just pure honesty, love, and acceptance. There’s no masks, there’s no putting up a brave front, there’s no acting like we’ve got it all together, there’s just love and understanding…there’s just honesty and healing. I love my friends!

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It’s been just under seven years since I became severely ill with botulism poisoning. Though I can happily and thankfully say that I am well into recovery and that things have improved drastically, there are still times that a flare up comes around, and knocks me right on my rear end…or rather into bed, hiding under the covers for fear that someone will see me when I’m ridden with anxiety, depression, and physical pain…when I feel incompetent, unable, like a failure, and thoroughly “not okay”.

This has been my go to for the longest time…hide away, and don’t let anyone see me when I don’t seem to have it all together. It wasn’t until a phone conversation with a dear friend a while back, in which they called when I was smack dab in the middle of a meltdown, that this began to change, and I began to allow myself to become more vulnerable and honest with other people. I normally wouldn’t have answered in this state, but for whatever reason I did. It went something like this:

Me: “Hello” *holding back tears*
Friend: “Hey! How are you doing?”
Me: *The dam breaks, the flood gates open, and I can’t hide it, I begin sobbing”… “Ya know what? I’m not good. I’m struggling. I’m overwhelmed with everything, and I’m not okay! I’m. Not. Okay.” *waits for friend to hang up on me, because I feel like I sound like a blubbering idiot*
Friend: “Girl, me too.” *begins sobbing right along with me, and we let ourselves be broken together, and love each other, not in spite of the brokenness, but because of it.*

Since this conversation, I can’t tell you how many more conversations that I’ve had with friends and strangers that go just like this. Conversations that I wouldn’t have been able to have if I wasn’t honest about what I was going through, and tried to keep up that “I’m fine” facade facing the world. All too many times, we try to put on a brave face for fear that we will be judged or ridiculed or told that we just aren’t trying hard enough, but ya know what? What I’ve found is that so many other people are going through the exact same stuff, and inside, they are just screaming for someone to relate to them, to be heard, and to be loved as they are and where they are. After opening up with people about my various struggles, I’ve found an overwhelming conclusion that it’s okay to not be okay.

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In today’s world of social media, we all see each other’s lives in these pretty little images indicating that life is perfect and we’ve all got it completely together. It’s so easy to feel like we need to keep up, like we need to have it all together, and like we need to be always be doing something great and accomplishing amazing things. It’s exhausting, and I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to not have it all together, it’s okay to take a mental health day to relax and replenish (in fact, it’s quite healthy to do so), it’s okay to rest, it’s okay to not do anything other than just be, and if you’re smack dab in the middle of a hard time, it’s okay to not be okay!!! Papa loves you as you are, not as you feel you should be. He loves you unconditionally, and He not only willingly, but gladly, walks into the midst of your struggles, right along with you, to offer you His inexplicable peace, mercy, and grace.

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The reality of life is that it doesn’t occur in pictures. Yes, there are great moments in life, and we capture mental images of these moments, but what about the in-between. That is, what about what happens in-between all of those picture perfect moments posted on social media? I can’t speak for everyone else, but it’s not like I’m posting pictures of when my house is a mess, I’m sobbing my face off, I’m having a panic attack, or my husband and I just had an argument over something ridiculous. See, these pictures of these fabulous moments show exactly that…moments, not life. The truth of the matter is that life is messy, we are messy, and all of us have parts of us that are broken in ways that only love can heal.

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If we’re honest with one another about these broken parts, opportunities arise. When we admit that we’re not okay during various seasons of our lives, a certain level of comfort is achieved, and others are more willing to open up and share about their own struggles. Hence, an opportunity arises for each of you to walk together through each of your struggles, love each other, and give each other a small taste of Jesus. Healing can occur on both ends. In hiding and putting up that supposedly brave face, these healing and loving moments are lost. Honestly, I think that it is braver for someone to admit that they’re not okay than it is to smile and say “I’m fine”.

Nobody in this life is safe from trials and suffering in various forms. No one is perfect. Everyone has bad days, weeks, or months. We all have times when we’re not okay. Isn’t there a weird sense of unity in that? Life can be hard. It can be overwhelming. It can be messy, ugly, and downright unbearable at times. The next time you’re walking through a tough season, and someone asks you “How are you doing?”, give honesty a try, and watch what happens. Beauty from darkness is not only possible with God, but it is a promise of His to all of His children. In honesty about what we’re going through, there is a sense of relief, along with opportunities to help others going through something similar.

All in all, guys, there are a lot of times that I’m not okay, and if you’re not okay, then we can be not okay together, and reassure one another that even though we’re not okay, we will be! It’s just not the end of the story! In the meantime, rest assured that it’s okay to not be okay!

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