Let the Struggle Be Real
It's Sunday morning, you're ready for the day. You've pulled into the Mosaic parking lot and you've got a few things on your mind: the coffee and bread, the worship music you're about to hear, what weird thing is Pastor Andy going to say today and what will the message be about?
As soon as you round the corner, you see the familiar faces - the beloved community. The faithful faces you see every week that welcome you to Church. Face excited to see you. And the age old question isn't too far away: How are you?
Many times it's said with enthusiasm but at least to you, if you think about it, it seems like a reflex. Isn't that what we're supposed to ask? It's just what you do! The same thing goes for the answer: I'm good.
That's what we're supposed to say, right?! I'm good. Plus, it's the right answer. Nobody wants to hear a different answer. Who in their right mind would take the time to be honest about what's going on?
I would go so far as to tell you that this simple, two-word answer has ruined you. It's ruined you over time and in subtle ways, but ways which now are manifested internally. With that simple phrase I'm good, we've been lying to ourselves and to others.
Granted, sometimes things are going really well and things are good. I'll give it to you that a lot of times, how we're doing is based purely on our perspective; but let's be real - there are a lot of times when we've been going through the wringer and we don't actually feel fine; but, out of habit and custom, we just give the same old answer people expect us to give.
When I was younger, probably about ten years ago, I decided that if someone were to ask me that question, I would tell them the real answer. I usually still to this day get that awkward chuckle and nervous look when I tell people how I'm really doing. But you know what? A few things happened:
Benefits of Being Real
I became more honest with myself
This was key in dealing with the actual problems going on in my life. I started to have the courage to face them. Not immediately, but it did start to happen.
I became more honest with God
Now that I could admit that there was a problem, I was enabled to pray more specifically and also listen more specifically when God was talking to me!
I found out who my true friends were
Not everyone you meet is supposed to know all of the nitty-gritty details of your life. In fact, it's not wise to tell everyone what's going on. But, I have found that the people who take the time to explore why I'm not "good", when I really am not, have become close, life-long friends and if not that, they are people I can ask prayer from.
It helps other folks out
It's like when I get honest and say what's going on, it encourages the person I'm talking to to get a little more vulnerable. Some of the best conversations I've had have come out of being asked or asking someone else why they were "just okay" or "not doing well". I could only hope that it pushes them closer to God and and to others that can support them.
I feel free
When I'm honest, it frees me up. I don't have to carry around emotional baggage. Sometimes, it's not even my baggage! Sometimes, I'm just helping carry around someone else's suitcase of crud. Just saying the words out loud: "Man, so-and-so was going through something and they shared with me and it's just weighing heavy on me", makes me feel lighter than keeping it all in.
So what now? Are we going to have therapy sessions every time we talk? Good God - I hope not! We don't have the time nor the energy for that! But maybe just having a few stock phrases ready to go is a good place to start:
A: How's it going?
B: Overall, I'm good but today has been challenging.
- OR -
A: What's up? How are you?
B: Exhausted! Today's been rough, but God is good!
Even simple things like that will eat away the stress. Acknowledging the struggle is real. Acknowledging that God is bigger than the problem and faithful through it. Just the honesty with where you are.
So with that, I challenge you: Next time some one asks you how you're doing - really tell them!
Andy Ferris is an associate pastor at Mosaic Life Church in Sacramento, CA. Contact him directly: firstname.lastname@example.org