Hear my prayer, O Lord! Listen to my cries for help! Don’t ignore my tears.
For I am your guest – a traveller passing through, as my ancestors were before me. Leave me alone so I can smile again before I am gone and exist no more.
Psalm 39: 12-13 (NLT)
Ask my friends to describe me and they’ll say something like ’Sorted. Together. Always smiling.”’
I like to be all of those things, and quite a lot of the time I am.
However, 2014 was a pig of a year – full of stress, a couple of nasty betrayals and, worst of all, unexpected bereavement. My natural inclination had always been to bottle everything up and pretend I was fine. Last year, I learnt the painful lesson that sometimes you have to let your slip show.
By September, anyone in church asking how I was would not always get the auto-answer of ’Fine, thanks.’ Sometimes I would actually tell them. It was outside the confines of church, however, that I was most honest.
I spend a lot of time with the mums at my children’s primary school and I’m involved in Messy Church and outreach. They don’t see a benign plaster saint, but more of the real me. This year they’ve seen someone who is finally able to cry in front of others, admit she’s struggling and ask for help when needed. I would rather have plucked my eyebrows with a pair of pinking shears than do any of those things once upon a time.
I thought that letting sadness show indicated weakness. Turns out it doesn’t.
Relationships have strengthened and grown, prayers have been answered and opportunities have appeared which I would never have dreamt of in my ’I’m fine’ days. God’s been at work, quietly, in the background.
I don’t know what 2015 will bring. I hope it’s better than 2014. But I’ve gone into it with God at my side, my true feelings much more accessible and a feeling that the best may just yet be to come.
Don’t over-use that catch-all phrase ‘I’m fine, thanks.’ Take a deep breath and admit it when you’re feeling down, or burdened, or unsure. You’re not saying ’I’m weak.’ You’re giving others an opportunity to help and build a friendship.
Ask God to prompt you next time someone asks how you are. You might be surprised at what he says.
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