For a long time in my mid-20s, I had that highschool-esque mentality where I thought I had to be like everyone else. I had to “keep up with the jones-es” or “be like the popular kids”. I had to have it all together on the inside and look put together on the outside. Truth is, it was exhausting. I spent my mornings testing out Instagram filters, my days working hard to earn enough money, my nights spending that money so I could look, act, and be like everyone else.
While I was working so hard to look perfect on the outside, I was unraveling on the inside. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, lonely, and in pain. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. I didn’t understand why I struggled this way when everyone else managed to keep a perfect life going. I hated that I was constantly “not ok” and I longed to just be normal.
As I discovered that part of my struggle was with depression, I realized that I needed to accept the fact that I was not going to always be ok. I was not always going to be pretty and perfect. There would be days that I would struggle to get out of bed, nights I wouldn’t want to go out with friends, and weeks of longing to be ok like everyone else. In my mind though, I thought, “No! I’m Jenny. I have to be strong enough. I have to keep it together. I have to be ok!” And every time I wasn’t ok, I felt guilty for not being ok.
My guilt over not being ok turned to anger. I would scroll through my facebook feed and see everyone’s perfectly curated lives. I would get jealous and angry. I would wonder why I got the pain and they got the good looks and perfect husband?
I came to the point where I looked around and wondered how anyone kept it all together. How are others pretty and put together all the time? How are others happy and never in pain? How are others surviving this life?
Then, it hit me. Everyone was lying. Everyone was curating their life to look perfect.
We all do it with our Instagram feeds and our Facebook pages. We post the joys, the promotions, the accomplishments of our lives. We post when we get engaged, not when we get divorced. We announce the birth of our child, not our miscarriage. We share the joy, not the pain of this life. And sometimes, that makes the pain all the more unbearable – because you feel like you are the only one not ok in this life. You feel like you are the only one going through the divorce, the miscarriage, the pain of this life. And that’s just not how God intended us to do life together.
God created man to be like Himself – compassionate, caring, understanding.
When we boast about our own successes, we create glory for ourselves.
But when we share our brokenness, our not-ok-ness, we start to display the glory of God.
Mary was a woman who was not ok. She had just lost her brother, Lazarus. She didn’t understand why her friend Jesus didn’t come right away when He received word that Lazarus was sick. She didn’t know why He didn’t come and heal him. She came and fell at the feet of her friend Jesus when He arrived and she wept.
When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
And what do you think happened when Jesus saw her weeping? Did He boast about the blind man He had just healed? Did He tell her to get up and that everything would be ok? No, He wept too. He entered into her brokenness. He moved from ok to not ok.
What beauty. What comfort Mary must have felt. What compassion she must have known to know that her friend Jesus did care, to know that He was troubled and sad too. And it all started because Mary was willing to be not ok.
Personally, I don’t think I would want the God of the universe to see me crying. I’m pretty sure I’d feel like a fool for being weepy at His feet. I’d think that I should just be ok, that I should just trust that God knows what He’s doing. I’d tell myself to suck it up and politely thank Jesus for coming when He did. I wouldn’t want to be the super-emotional chic who’s like, “Hey God, you’re late. WTH?!”
But Mary is willing to be vulnerable here. She cries without a care who is watching. She tells God how she is feeling – that she’s not ok. And she isn’t shy about it either.
What happens next? God’s glory is revealed. Hope is restored. Lazarus is raised from the dead.
Yes, it would have been cool if Lazarus had been healed by Jesus while he was sick and still alive. But we would have missed this beautiful broken moment where all hope is lost. There’s this moment where even Jesus Himself weeps at the pain that death brings. There’s this moment where we see Jesus physically lamenting the not-ok-ness of this world – where He sees and is saddened by how things are not the way they should be.
What I’m trying to say is that we have to get better at being vulnerable. We have to stop curating our lives to look perfect. We have to start admitting that sometimes we are not ok. We need to celebrate each other’s joys in life – yes, absolutely! But we also need to carry each other’s burdens of pain. We need to stop and weep with our friend who is weeping. We need to share our pain so others will know they are not so alone. We need to rest in our not-ok-ness sometimes and see what glory God is waiting to reveal through us.
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