No, I’m Not Okay - Thanks For Asking

I really like that song that came out recently with lyrics that say “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” by the artist Plumb. A friend of mine disagreed whole-heartedly. This has been on my mind since then.

I say that because I’ve found myself lately feeling like a liar when friends or acquaintances ask how I am and I instinctively say, “Fine, how are you?” Sometimes I’m not AT ALL fine, but is church the right place to share personal trials, or complain because you’re just in a foul mood? I would rather encourage and be friendly at church. Also, you don’t want to share your intimate hurts with whoever happens to be friendly. Right? 

As Believers we’re obviously encouraged to “…cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers…” Psalm 34:14. God longs for our interaction. But what about those humans in our daily lives? Obviously my spouse is who I share the most with about all things. I believe there are some things that should ONLY be shared with your spouse (if you are married). There is a trust present, based on the marriage relationship.

David had a tight-knit friendship with Jonathon and they shared their souls with each other, and we’ll never know what intimate conversations Jesus shared with the disciples and no one else. In a drastically different situation in Job 42:7, we hear God say to Job’s friend Eliphaz “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” I believe this tells us that we should be cautious about who we share with and who we look to for counsel. We see all through Paul’s letters that his greetings are heartfelt and personal - not short, but they are also written and not face to face.

As women, we are drawn to each other for fellowship and mentoring. I love this realm! I know fellowship isn’t a spiritual gift, but I love loving on people. Sharing, laughing, and spending time around a table having a meal or a Bible study “fills my cup”. In fact, I’m part of a mentoring small group and our hope is to share some personal struggles, failures, and victories so that our younger friends can gain wisdom and feel like they aren’t the only ones out there struggling. A small group like this is a good place to share more intimately.

Most people would agree that there is a line. A moveable line that shifts depending on who you are with, and where you are at the time. For example, you might share with a group that you need prayer for a family struggle, but you might only share exactly what is happening in your family with a close friend you trust. And of course, your spouse (if you are married) would know all the details of what your family is going through and how you’re feeling.

Back to church. This is our family - the church. So what do we say? What do YOU say when a sweet friend asks how you are? If we start off the morning with the Lord, our response might be different than if we allow Him to be crowded out, even if we’ve gotten some bad news. I’ve found myself tossing up a quick prayer to God if my heart isn’t in the right place. As a believer, if my heart is humble and genuinely seeking God’s gentle and kind character, the Bible tells us in 1 John 5:14 that He answers “according to His will”. Treating others with kindness will always be in His will.

And this is the confidence that we (Believers) have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

1 John 5:14-15

On the other hand, if we happen to be rushed or aren’t prepared to stay and listen, we DON’T need to say those words either. “How are you?” Someone might just take you up on that and share their heart with you - assuming you genuinely care how they are and have the time. I’m not suggesting that we stop caring. A more private location might be appropriate for sharing a struggle. Sunday morning at church is a flurry of people milling and hugging.

I think the main lesson for me in this is to think before speaking. To let my words be genuine and not like a recorded message. So I’ve come up with some ideas on how I could respond in love and honesty on a “bad day”.

These are still dependent on who I might be speaking with and where we are…

  • “I’d love it if you’d pray with me.” 
  • “This morning has been a struggle, but God is my strength.”
  • “I’m grateful to be here.”
  • “God is carrying me through.”

Possibly a change in the way I greet others in passing could sound something like this:

  • “It sure is good to see you!” 
  • “I’ve missed you this week.”
  • Or more simply, “Hi there!” With a warm smile, of course. A smile speaks to the heart!

I’d love to hear YOUR ideas for a heartfelt greeting or response on a bad day. 

Now What?

12 comments on “No, I’m Not Okay - Thanks For Asking”

  1. Thank you, Amy! What you've said resonates with me. I've thought about both of these things: questions I ask people and the responses that I give to others. I've learned to think about these more, especially the greetings I use. I try to use greetings that aren't a question. I think my favorite one to use is, "It's good to see you!"

    I believe that a past experience makes this a matter close to my heart. I remember somebody passing me in the hospital hall in 1993 casually asking "How are you?" I responded, "Fine," but inside I was thinking, "My Daddy is down the hall dying. I'm NOT fine."

    It was a moment that has stuck with me. I was feeling crushed by the new emotions I was feeling. I was around 45 years old and I had never faced the death of anyone in my immediate family. I remember thinking, "So this is what it's like when your father is dying." I gained a new appreciation for the pain of my friends that had lost a parent.

    You've given me some practical things to think about and I'm thankful. God bless you.

    1. Thank you for sharing that story! You are right. There's no way of knowing what people are dealing with and there may be a dam of emotions ready to flow once you ask that question.

      You're phrase is a great one!

  2. Amy, thanks for again sharing some great food for thought. I know I have struggled with this at different times and this is a great perspective I needed to hear! Thanks.

  3. Great read... Because I don't want to burden others with my problems, I usually just say "I'm here. I woke up this morning!" When someone asks me How I'm doing. It's true, and it helps to avoid talking about my problems/struggles at that moment.

    The same with greeting someone. I keep it short. "You doing alright?", is my go-to greeting.

  4. Amy, I loved your thoughts. Gives me things to think about just because you shared this.

    I want to encourage others with truths that I myself am learning, and I'm finding that just ASKING GOD to use me today is always worth asking. I'm finding when I go out in my SPECIAL SPOT, I often look up and say.... "Is that You, LORD?".... meaning... that He's brought something to my attention... (either in my reading or listening to an old message on CD) that is exactly what I needed and was thinking on that day.

    This probably didn't make much sense, but I really just wanted to say thank you for sharing your heart and thoughts today. They were good ones and something I needed.

    Keep enjoying the ONE who is enjoying you~!!!

  5. I love this Amy. I often feel dishonest with, "I'm fine," and try to use other options such as you have listed. Of course, the best solution is spending time with Jesus before church, but the reality is, that doesn't always happen. Thank you for penning these thoughts.

    1. Thanks Cindy! I don't know why "before church" time always seems to be hectic. I have no kids and we still always seem rushed.

      1. Thank you Cindy! It's definitely therapeutic to talk through what we're thinking, or to write it down. Ultimately talking to the Lord.

  6. Amy, I love this! “I’m okay; you’re ok” doesn’t get anyone anywhere! This is so refreshing! Your list of possible responses is helpful—I may have to memorize those!

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