"Is everything ok, Al?" My twin sister asked. "You seem kinda blue."
My first instinct was to feign a smile and pretend like everything was just fine. But deep down, I really wasn't, though I couldn't really put my finger on why. All I knew was in that moment, I felt anxious about many things in my uncertain twenty-something life: what direction my career would take, where I would live, whether I would get that job I applied for, if I would ever fall in love with that "right" person, and much more. As I struggled to give my sister an honest answer, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, "It's okay to not be okay all the time."
It is okay...to not be okay.
Sometimes we think being a strong Christian means we have to be happy and cheerful all the time. While it is true that God gives us supernatural portions of joy when we know Him personally, there are times in life we will experience moments, days, even seasons of difficulty, pain, anguish, suffering and trials of many kinds. The Scriptures give us more than enough evidence of this fact: just read the Psalms, or study the lives of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Paul, Jesus or any other major figure in the Bible. They didn't live lives free from suffering or struggle, but they endured and persevered through them by the grace and strength of their God.
Here are a few things that can help us through our 'not okay' moments of life:
Pour our Heart out to God. Psalm 62:8 says, "...pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." Sometimes we assume God knows everything about us so there is no point in voicing it to Him. But when we truly trust God and look to Him as our refuge in times of trouble, we will go to Him and share everything that is in our hearts—the good, the bad and the ugly—like we would a best friend. This fosters closeness and intimacy with our Heavenly Father, which then brings comfort and healing during our 'down in the dump' times.
Learn to be Vulnerable. Paul says, "...where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Corinthians 3:17). The Holy Spirit will enable us to be vulnerable, freeing us from fear of what others might think. We will be able to admit we need others to sustain us on this road of life and in turn, we will be able to receive the love God may extend through them.
Have the Courage to Cry. John 11 records how Jesus "wept" after Mary came to him about her dead brother. Jesus wept! If the Son of God had the courage to cry, we should, too. Shedding tears can be a healthy release of emotion that can bring refreshing and renewal, turning our momentary sorrow into joy, once again.
Persevere through the Valley. Jesus says, "Every valley shall be filled..." (Luke 3:5). He brings us assurance in our lowest times that he will fill us with a fresh fullness of His Spirit and exalt us to a higher plain with Him.
We all have times of feeling less than our best. But God doesn't want us to run away from it or shove it under the rug like its nothing. It is often in this 'not ok' place that God is doing a deeper work within us. He allows moments of moaning, groaning, suffering, struggling, trials and tears to achieve His higher purposes.
So let me say it one more time: It is okay to not be okay, today. May you have the willingness to pour your heart out to God, the humility to be vulnerable in front of your loved ones, the courage to cry a river of tears, the strength to persevere through the valley and the hope that God will bring you through!
"...weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5)
"...but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (Romans 5:3-4)
Ali Smith is the author of Entrusting the Key: From Serial Dating to Joyful Waiting (Amazon.com), in which she shares her journey of how to find joy and purpose while being single. When Ali is not meeting deadlines for her writing, she is hiking in the Rocky Mountains.
© 2011 by Ali Smith. All rights reserved.
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