I sat on the edge of her bed, and she didn’t even look up. I was visiting a friend who was not okay.
It was more than a bad day, it was a sad season for her.
But I wasn’t deterred from my mission to cheer her up. And I tried everything. I suggested fun activities, reminded her of good times, quoted inspiring Scripture, and offered to play encouraging music.
I got an occasional head nod and a shrug.
As I sat there in silence, I thought back to days when I haven’t been okay. Some days I could name the pain I felt and others I couldn’t. And it’s when I thought of my own pain, I remembered what I needed the most.
So I did what I should have in the first place: I hugged her and whispered in her ear, “It’s okay to not be okay.”
She sighed in relief. Permission to not be okay is sometimes exactly what we need.
We sat in comfortable silence for a long time. I reminded her that God loved these days the best — the ones we can’t fix on our own. Because He is there with us. He doesn’t always change our circumstances, and we don’t always feel something new, but we aren’t alone. Sometimes that’s all we need.
She wiped away a single tear and whispered thank you. By the time I left, I hadn’t done much, but it was enough.
Today, you might not be okay. You might be facing a mountain of sadness or impossibility. You might be walking through a valley of despair. You might not even know why you aren’t okay. You might be looking at a scary diagnosis, experiencing a financial disaster, or struggling with a wayward child.
I’ve experienced all of the above.
These are the moments we do everything we can think of to resolve the struggle in our soul. And life sort of feels like quicksand — the harder we struggle, the deeper we sink. The days seem dark and lonely, and our soul is crushed by the heaviness of despair.
And if I’m perfectly honest with you about how I’m feeling today, I’m not okay either. I’ve been sick for days but beyond a cough and cold, my soul is exhausted. I’m burdened and overwhelmed. I’ve bitten off more than I can chew (Mercy House, opening a retail store, out-of-the-country houseguests, speaking and traveling –all this month) and today, I really miss my oblivious days when my biggest concerns were what to buy at Target and how to decorate for fall.
I see how easy my life is in the eyes of those who live such a hard one. And while I admit that I’ve made my life harder to ease the burden of theirs, I also confess that I am weary in well doing. And today, I’m not okay.
“Laying a life up against the chest of His Word, and hearing the steady beat of His heart, is the only soundtrack that strengthens the human heart.” ~ Ann Voskamp
But only one thing can refresh and renew and save our soul. And that’s the Word. Yet, God’s Word is often the last place we turn. It’s crazy to think a book with words can be the answer, but the Word of God is alive, and it cuts to the broken places and heals what we cannot.
The situation or struggle might not dissolve overnight, but we can find solace and comfort in the words He’s left for us:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters;
He restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff–
they comfort me.
Today, I’m not okay. I need my soul to rest.
And there’s only one place we can find comfort, and that’s in the quiet space at His feet, where it’s okay to not be okay.
Because one day He will make everything okay.