Hey girl! Just thinking about you… it’s been way too long since we’ve talked. Hope all is well, let’s catch up soon.
That was a text I received from a friend I haven’t seen in years. We live in different states, and had grown apart. It was a happy surprise to hear from her, but I had no idea how to respond. The truth was, I was anything but okay, but wasn’t about to delve into those details through a text message. So I made up some phony happy response like this – Hey! What a happy surprise to hear from you! All is great here. Yes! Let’s catch up soon.
We all do it. We say we’re okay even if we’re not okay. Whether it’s because we don’t want to burden another person with our problem, we want to give the impression we’ve got it all together, or we’re trying to convince ourselves that we really are okay, we all do it.
What would happen if we just admitted it? If my response had been something like, Hey friend, so good to hear from you. I’d love to catch up… things aren’t great. I could really use your prayers, would the world have ended? Would she think I was a needy drama queen? Or maybe regret that she texted me?
Does it really matter?
What if the honest response would have confirmed in her heart that God had prompted her to send it?
The truth is, we all go through hard times. As a Christian, I had this underlying fear that if I took my happy face mask off, people might doubt the validity of my faith… they would wonder what the point of all this Jesus stuff was if we’re just going to go through hard times anyway. This begs the question, “Is it okay for Christians to be sad? Angry? Scared? Why does God allow us to go through this stuff?
The short answer is Yes. It is okay. God gave us a range of emotions for a reason, and I think He allows us to go through difficulties for a few different reasons. First, God tells us in His Word that we will have trouble. All of us. If we were exempt from hard times here, there would be no need for Heaven later, right?
Maybe God is using that hard thing in your life to draw you closer to Him.
Maybe He knows there is someone you’ll meet along the way who will need to hear your story and how He got you through it.
Maybe He is preparing something pretty incredible for you, but you’re not quite ready for it yet.
More than anything, being real about feelings is the only way to freedom from whatever is causing them. It’s in that transparency you’re able to get past that hard thing and let people see what an honest, deep relationship with Jesus really looks like. They’ll see what healing looks like, and what it means to have peace beyond circumstances.
I’ve learned a few things that help me cope when I’m going through something tough. Maybe they might work for you too:
1. Pray and Praise
Yep. Find somewhere quiet and spend time with the Lord. Even if you don’t feel like it. I’ve mentioned this before, but my favorite place to do this is my closet. There’s a window, so I just face the light that streams in and start talking. And listening (that’s the hard part for me). There have been times when I’m too sad to talk, so I don’t. I just sit there quietly. I cry if I need to, and if I’m angry things get pretty heated (at least on my end – ha!). What a patient God we serve. The walls in our closet are covered with prayer requests, praises, and Scripture written on paper scraps and taped up wherever I can find space.
My favorite place to praise Jesus is in my car. Thankfully, due to the stage of life I’m in with carpooling kiddos all over town, I spend a lot of time in there. I blast praise and worship music in there and sing out loud… really loud. It’s a wonder my car speakers haven’t blown. Or my ear drums. But it’s such a sweet time together, just the two of us. He’s taught me so much.
2. Self Care
When I’m really down and out, my tendency is to go underground. I become a hermit who just wants to stay home and hopes I don’t run into anyone I know when I do have to get out. I don’t want to talk on the phone or text or enjoy lunches with friends that I usually love.
I get pretty weird.
There is a small handful of people who know this about me and love me anyway. They love me right on through it to the other side. Unfortunately, it has also cost me a couple friendships, which has broken my heart BUT it has made me realize that the ones who understand it’s not personal… those are my people, and I’m better off trusting those few with the deepest parts of me than having to constantly explain myself to the ones who just aren’t going to get it. (*I know this isn’t the loveliest of personality traits… I’m working on it.*) It’s during this weirdness that I work through stuff and try to come out on the other side better… for myself and my people.
Other ways I self-care is to take hot baths. Read. And read some more. I practice yoga – it’s taught me how to really breathe, it’s made me stronger, a little leaner, and the quiet allows time to pray and meditate on what God is teaching me.
If you are constantly taking care of everyone else and ignoring yourself, you will crash and burn. Hard. Treat your body like the temple of God that it is and take care of it.
3. Bless Someone Else
When we are completely focused on our own problems we will most likely ignore other people and their problems. Our prayers become self-centered, and so do our conversations. Who wants to be around that person? Not fun. One great way to remedy that is to do something nice for someone else. Bring a co-worker their favorite treat. Offer to babysit your best friend’s kids so she can get a break. Leave cookies for the garbage man, take pizzas to the fire station… you get it. They will be blessed and you will feel so much better. And you’ll remember that this world really doesn’t revolve around you.
So… is it okay to be sad or angry or scared? Sure, for a little while. But you can’t stay there. Why would you want to anyway? Pray and trust that the God who is allowing you to go through this hard stuff is there for you to lean on… He’ll carry you through it, and you’ll be stronger and more joyful and at peace; not because life is perfect, but because you know the One who makes it all worth it.