It’s Okay to not be Okay, Admit it and Not Know What to do……

So, we have looked at a couple of things lately:

– We’ve talked about how it is okay to not be okay.   It’s okay to not have the perfect life, no one does.

It’s okay to not be okay and admit it.    It’s okay to struggle and to be open with those who are close to you – family, friends, church and such.  By admitting that you are not okay, you are giving your family, your friends and your church the opportunity to step up and be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Now I want to talk about another aspect of that.  What happens if you don’t know what to do about whatever you are not okay with?

If you hate going to work in the morning – but don’t know what to do about it……

If you don’t have a work to go to in the morning – and can’t seem to find one……

If your kids are struggling at school…..

If your health is failing……

If (insert a thousand other possibilities here)

and you don’t know what to do.   

Then what?

I don’t know.  I’ve been in that place many times, in some ways, I’m in that place right now.

But here’s some lessons that I have learned while in that place of not knowing…..

Lean on those you can trust.  Family, close friends, walk through your struggles with someone.   It is a lot less lonely when you can do that.  Sometimes it takes finding people online who understand when no one locally might understand.  

Care for the ones you love.  While you don’t know what to do about your problem, don’t forget the ones you love.   Care for them, care about them, be present with them. 

Don’t be afraid to sit with the uncertainty and the pain that comes from being “not okay.”  Don’t bury the pain and frustration because then it comes back out in more difficult ways.   Give yourself the okay to be not okay with being not okay.

6 inches – Only look 6 inches ahead.  Don’t worry about what’s going to happen in 3 years.   Focus on the here and now.   Trust God to provide you with what you need to know and the strength you need to walk through whatever you are walking through – not right now, but when you need it.

Take heart in the fact that while you might not know what to do about “it,” you do know the One who does know what the future holds.   And not only does he know what the future holds, He knows how to get you from here to “there.”   

Don’t forget to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Yes, even while you are in the “not okay” phase and even while you are struggling to figure out what you need to do about what you are “not okay” about, don’t forget to look around and see who you can help.   Whether it’s someone else walking the same road or someone with a totally different need for help, keep your eyes open for opportunities to serve others.   It just might provide you with the “breath of fresh air” that you need to help you make it through another day of hard places.

It’s okay to not be okay.

It’s okay to not know what to do about it.

If this helps you, even in a small way, I’d love to hear from you.

Tom

 

It’s Okay to not be Okay–and Admit It……

Following up on the posts that I wrote here and here.   It’s okay to not be okay.

And it’s okay to admit it.

Well, not according to our society.

According to our society, we need to be “great” and we need to be “busy” and the kids need to be “awesome” and the family needs to be “happy” when they get to church on Sunday.

According to our society, our kids need to be playing three or four sports (or if not that many, then they need to be on two or three leagues in addition to school play.)  There’s a field down the street from us where I’ve seen them getting ready for a soccer game at 10:00 on a Sunday morning.   And this is in one of the areas of the country that has the highest number of churches per capita?

According to our society we need to drive the new SUV or the really cool Lincoln that Matthew McConaughey drives.   And if we drive one of those, then all will be well.

Except it isn’t.

And something is missing.

It feels fake, it feels hollow. 

It leaves us wanting more.

And then we realize, the reason it feels fake is because it is fake.  

Everything is not okay.

We live in a broken world.   Kids misbehave, jobs get eliminated, bad stuff happens.

Some of it is just a little bit bad.

Some of it is really really “cry on the floor” bad.

Some of it is, “I don’t think I can make it” bad.

And our society thinks it’s healthy to ignore that pain?

And many of our churches don’t know what or how to help someone who struggles?

A good friend of mine who I had the privilege of serving on church council once said it quite well,  “If we can fix it with a casserole, great!  If not, well, never mind.”

Most of the pain in this world doesn’t show on the surface.  

Most of the pain can be hidden through fake smiles and nice clothes.

A lot of the pain can be hidden through off the cuff comments, “Good.”   Or “Busy,” or “fine and you?”

But that doesn’t show the real person underneath.   

It doesn’t show the damage that was done by past trauma.  

It doesn’t show the real struggles that make it hard to get out of bed.

It doesn’t show the fractured relationships and the financial struggles and the…….

It’s not healthy, people.   It’s not healthy to live essentially in hiding.

One of the reasons that so many people are frustrated with the church is because too many people at church are faking it.

They aren’t dealing with their struggles, they aren’t acknowledging that all is not perfect.

And they aren’t giving their friends the opportunity and the privilege to support them in their struggles.

Yes I said privilege.  Some of my closest friendships are with people who I’ve been given the privilege, the pain and the deep sensitivity that comes from someone saying, OUT LOUD, ‘I’m not okay!”

It’s okay to not be okay.   This is a broken world we live in.

It’s also okay to admit it.  

By admitting when you are not okay, you give others the chance to be the hands and feet of Christ and you contribute to a healthy dose of realism that the world needs.

There’s too much fake, there’s not enough real.

And that’s not okay.

TJV

National Adoption Month–“It’s Okay to not be Okay”

This actually fits pretty well with what I wrote about yesterday – in terms of how it’s okay to not be okay.   It’s okay to not be happy, smiley, perfect, wonderful and totally content.

My friend, Carissa Woodwyk, an adult adoptee and therapist, wrote this about National Adoption Month and posted it on her Facebook wall.   If you are on Facebook and you haven’t checked out her writing yet, do so.   She gave me permission to repost what she wrote in it’s entirety.  

I think it’s that important.

It’s that important that adopted children and adults know that “we” hear their side of the story.

It’s that important that those who don’t see “the other side” see the other side, realize that adoption isn’t all rainbows and unicorns and then ask themselves, “Now what?”

Without further ramblings from me, I hand the mic to Carissa:

i don’t even know how to start this, but here we go…

hello, “national adoption month.” you’re here again. ahhh! and to think that i didn’t even know you existed four years ago. and i have to admit, i don’t think i would even still associate november with adoption. because i mostly think of november as a month that holds colder air and my birthday and my husband’s birthday and thanksgiving and falling leaves and wet rain. but i’m reminded about how you show up with all sorts of adoption quotes and orphan sunday promotions and gratitudes and even platitudes – all over social media. all month long, people engage with and educate with and inform and celebrate and raise the importance of the act of adoption. and behind all the words and banners and video clips and redemptive and feel-good stories, i certainly believe there are so many hearts and advocates who care…so, so much.

and then i think about the adult adopted person i sat with this week. and how his beginning story messed with his brain and body – with his worthiness – so, so much. and how the things people said to him sent messages to him that he should feel lucky and grateful because who knows where his life would’ve been if he hadn’t been adopted. but how no one talked about the hard things – the losses, the skin color, the other adopted kids in their home. and then how all those feelings got tucked and stuck inside, behind a smile.

so, i stand WITH him in asking, “what’s with all the highlight and glory of this month? why is there an entire month dedicated to bringing awareness to the “plight of the orphan” when so many are still hurting from all that happened so adoption could happen?”

my tears roll down my cheek, on his behalf. because the ache and questions and shitty parts of his story still linger. (am i allowed to say the “s” word if i add a “y” to soften it? :))

and then i think about all that i’ve been learning these past four years about the adoption and foster care world. SO much. but i’m not going to write about that tonight because i just want to invite you to let what lingers in him – in SO many adopted persons – linger in you as he…as you…as we…step into “national adoption month,” together. may you FEEL on his behalf. feeling WITH him (not FOR him) doesn’t have to take away from whatever your feelings are about this month, about adoption, but it does allow you in some mysterious way to stand WITH him, with the adopted person. in solidarity. which maybe…could open something in his spirit – in YOUR spirit – in OUR spirits, that would allow us to move forwards, together.

it’s always a both/and, but tonight, i leave you with just one side.

may you let the tension take you somewhere new…needed…good.

‪#‎therapistthoughts‬

It’s Okay to not be Okay

I’m going to start this post out with an apology.   I don’t remember and I can’t find who originally wrote the statement that is the title to this post.   It might have been John Pavlovitz, it might have been Ann Voskamp, I don’t remember.   If you recognize it, let me know and I’ll gladly revise to give them credit.

It was Jason Johnson – he wrote it on his blog – read it right here.

But this phrase has stuck with me this week because it resonates on many levels.   “It’s okay to not be okay.”

Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan….. – “It’s okay to not be okay with what is happening there.”

Racism, police relations – “It’s okay to not be okay with what is happening there.”

School shootings, gun violence – “It’s okay to not be okay with what is happening there.”

Child trafficking, child abuse, adoption corruption, political corruption – “It’s okay to not be okay with that.”

Job losses, marital struggles, problems with your kids – “It’s okay to not be okay with what’s happening here.”

Feelings of self worth, feelings of despair, physical illnesses, mental illnesses – “It’s okay to not be okay.”

Feeling like you don’t belong, feeling like you’re not doing what God wants you to, feeling like you’ve let people or let God down – “It’s okay to not be okay.”

There is too much of a “push” in today’s society, on TV, at work, at school, at church to be seen as “okay” or better.    And too much pressure to feel “less than” if you can’t measure up.

People, we need to stop beating ourselves up.   We need to stop trying to keep up with the Joneses (unless of course that is your name).  It’s not healthy, it’s hard on ourselves and it’s hard on those we love.,

We need to learn to be okay with our struggles.   We need to learn to be okay with our limitations.   We need to learn that it’s okay to not be okay.

One of the many things I’ve learned in the last dozen years as we’ve walked this adoption road and met many fascinating and amazing and wonderful people is that everyone has struggles.

Everyone.

Look around you – if you can see 10 people while you’re reading this, all 10 of them are struggling with something.   It might be big, it might be smaller, but they have struggles.

And some of their struggles are made significantly worse because we (the collective we) don’t allow people to be real.   It makes “us” uncomfortable when people answer, “How are yah?” with, “Man, it’s been a tough week.”

We don’t know what to say.   We need to be okay with not knowing what to say.

We need to be okay with not being okay.  We need to be okay with giving those around us the right to not be okay.

We need to be okay with saying, “I wish there is something I could do, but there isn’t, so I’ll just stand by you and be “not okay” with you.”

We’ll talk about this more in coming posts but I want to make one thing perfectly clear – “being okay with not being okay” does NOT mean that we’re settling for evil being in the world.   It does not mean that we’re happy with the status quo.

Nope – it means that we’re accepting of the fact that we’re not okay in a fallen world and we’re leaning on God to help us change it for us and for others.

More to come, but for now, remember that it’s okay to not be okay.

I am the second part.  I’m learning the first part.

How about you?

TJV