(I wrote this several years back and never finished it. I think maybe it was too raw for me at the time. God brought these words back to my mind as I was speaking to a dear friend going through a difficult time. I can't help but think someone needs to hear this today so they can know it's okay to not be okay. God is big enough to handle it.)
One of the hardest things to do is admit you are not okay. It's incredibly easy to say that you're fine or good or great or whatever, but to say you are not those things.... well, that takes a bit of vulnerability. You have to be willing to meet resistance. Discomfort. Awkwardness. Apathy. Anyone relate?
Pain is weird. It does not respect your boundaries. It is not obedient. You can't make it stop or go away with a snap of your fingers. You can't throw a "Hail Mary" of verses at it hoping for fast results. There are some experiences you cannot avoid or step around. You must walk through them. Pain is one of those.
I've been studying and meditating a lot in Psalms. It's really been such a comfort to me because right now I am not okay. I'm struggling.
People don't deal well with struggling people. They are difficult to be around because well, they are struggling. In our instant gratification world, we do not do well with long-term anything. We have a window of grace that we allow people to not be okay in, and once it's reached we move on. Why? Because they are emotionally hard and draining to be around. Aren't Christians supposed to be immune to that kind of sorrow anyway?
God forgive me, how many countless times have I've been guilty of this kind of impatience?
We do a disservice and heap guilt upon the struggling when we assume that a quick verse or fast prayer will fix their problem. We also inflict deep wounds when we assume their faith must be weak or they wouldn't be hurting this way. Why are we okay with David or Job or Jeremiah or any other Bible character crying out in pain to God, but not with our fellow brothers and sisters? Why?
What needs to be understood about my current struggle is that my faith is not shattered. My faith is sure. My faith is solid. My faith is everything to me because right now my faith is all I have.
What also needs to be understood is that my faith does not take the pain away. Someone needs to hear that. I have never trusted God more in my life with my life, but that does not lessen the hurt. What it does is leave me with a solid hope I can cling to.
One of the hardest statements said to me during this time was, 'I don't like this, "you." I want the other Shelly back.' Believe me. I want her back too, but I can't seem to find her right now. This doesn't mean I have lost my joy or my hope in my God, it is just manifesting as tears and sorrow right now.
Tears for the pain. Sorrow for the hurt.
My hope and joy rest in knowing that even as I navigate this, it is not the final word for me. Why? Because just like David, in the midst of me not being okay, I have confidence in the One who is walking this road with me.
Psalm 42:5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
You'll need to read the entire Psalm to understand the angst behind the words, but David is depressed. He is wondering why he is unable to join with the multitudes in joyful worship. His song is broken. His tears are his constant companion. It hurts so deep he can feel it in his bones.
It is so very painful his bones hurt. Anybody?
David understood that it would not always be this way. He left us with a great example of what to do while we are not okay.
David acknowledged the pain.
Read the entire Psalm and you will have no doubt that David was hurting. He did not try to hide it or deny it. He openly shared his grief. You really must get this, or you will experience your pain for nothing. You need to allow yourself to really feel what is going on. This is hard. Especially for those of us who like to control everything. This hurt will manifest itself. You can let yourself feel it now, or you will feel it later - and it does not get easier the longer you deny the pain.
How do I do this? Journal. Talk. Therapy. Counseling. Praying. Maybe a combination of all these things. Whatever you need to allow yourself to say, "This happened. It hurts. It's awful."
Feel it. Admit it. Jesus was not kidding when he said that the truth will set you free.
David embraced the pain.
What? David did not try to avoid or remove what was happening. He cried out to God to show him what the purpose of this pain was all about. There is a difference between getting through something and going through something. So many times, we cry out to be released when God has something else in mind. Maybe he is using this time to refine you? Maybe this time isn't about you but someone else? Only God knows! Embrace what he has given you knowing that your "yet" is coming.
David surrendered the pain.
I've spoken a lot about the "yet" - that time when we will praise him once again with shouts of joy - but here's the truth: I don't know when that day will get here, and neither did David.
I wish I could tell you a definitive date, but I can't. All I know is that we can surrender all the pain to God knowing we can trust his timeline. David knew this. He knew that God had an ultimate purpose for his downcast soul. Maybe that was so I could hear this truth today right when I needed it. Maybe it is the same for you.
Whatever the reason, that same truth that David clung to is for us to claim. God promises restoration. He promises mending. He promises that we "will yet praise him" despite not knowing when that day will be. Surrender the pain. You can trust God with it all.
This is where I am right now. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt my "yet" is coming. That there is coming a day when I will sing a joyful song instead of a broken sob, and I'm okay with that. I'm okay with not being okay because God is the same God no matter what my worship resembles. He is my hope even when my bones hurt, and my tears won't dry. He is okay with my pain and my sorrow. He is God enough for all of me. He knows that when my "yet" gets here I'll be leading the procession to worship the one who lead me through my season of being fine, but not okay.
Hosea 6: 1-2 Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us. He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence.