I was at the grocery store a few weeks ago and as I walked past a worker there, he politely asked me how I was doing. Honestly, as soon as he asked me, I wanted to throw up. I know he was just doing his job and it was well intended. I wasn’t upset with him in the least bit, but I realized in that moment, I was so tired of that question. You see, I’m in this hard season of life where the question, “How are you?”, feels terribly overwhelming. I had come to really dread that question. How do you answer what should be such a simple question when everything in your life is a complicated mess? I responded, like I do almost every time I’m asked that question, with, “Good, thanks.”, knowing full well that was a lie.
When you are in a hard season and there is a lot of heartache and grief, those short moments when your brain finds relief from thinking about reality, are so few and far between. That day in the store, for a brief second, I had forgotten about life outside of my grocery list. That was until I was caught off guard by the man’s seemingly harmless question. And that simple question, in the middle of the frozen pizza aisle, left me feeling paralyzed. It got me thinking, how do you deal with hearing this question over and over again, when life is far from the typical answer of “Good, thanks.”?
Are you tracking with me? Have you ever been there? While I don’t have a perfect solution, the Lord has revealed two things to me recently that have helped me through what can be an incredibly overwhelming question when the real answer is complicated, painful, and messy.
BE MORE VULNERABLE
For some of us, when faced with this question, we need to lay down our desire to portray a life that is put together and choose to be more vulnerable. I’m not saying I should have opened up and shared my whole life with the grocery store worker; there are definitely times where it is not appropriate to be vulnerable. However in a lot of cases, it is incredibly helpful to open up and share with someone what you are going through. In the social media world that we live in, we can so easily be deceived into believing that everyone else’s life is perfect. It can be tempting to try and portray ours as perfect too and that temptation can make it difficult to share our burdens and hardships with others. The weight of depicting a perfect life is one that can’t be carried for long. You will eventually crumble under that kind of pressure. God has designed us for authentic community. We aren’t meant to carry these burdens alone. We need people who are praying and pleading to God on our behalf. We need someone who knows the messy details of our lives and walks alongside us in that mess.
Part of what makes this season particularly hard is that what is going on with my family is not something I can share with just anyone. Maybe you are in a similar situation, where it's not that you are unwilling to be vulnerable, but for whatever reason, vulnerability is not an option. That can be a very lonely place. Something that was extremely helpful for me was to find one friend I knew I could trust and share those heartbreaking details with her. I would encourage you to do the same. Find one person, outside of the situation, who can help you carry the weight of that burden.
I’ve never yearned for Heaven more than I have these last few months. This world is so broken. When that question, “How are you?” comes and I’m instantly reminded of the pain and the reality of life here on Earth, I find God gently whispering to me, “This is not your home. This life is just a vapor. Your treasure is in Heaven.” I can easily get wrapped up in feeling like the cards my family and I have been dealt are not fair. And when those thoughts creep up, I have to remind myself of truth. I know that our time here is short in comparison to eternity, and man will the other side of eternity be beautiful. This broken world will be restored. Justice will be served. And until then, God promises He is at work in all the brokenness, even when we can’t see it. These reminders bring me peace in the midst of chaos, in the midst of hard circumstances that I can't seem to make any sense of.
One of the situations that has made this a difficult season for us is that we are going on 3 and a half years of living with and taking care of my aging grandma. Thankfully, the realities and hardships of this situation I have been able to share with many of you. We are so weary. There are many facets of this situation that make it incredibly difficult and I won't go into all of them now, but one of those is that it feels like our life is on hold. Of the 42 months that we’ve been married, we have only spent 4 of those months alone and in a space that was ours. The rest have been here, in a tiny ranch style home with 60 years worth of stuff from a lady that lived through the Great Depression and likes to hold on to almost everything. Our wedding presents are still packed away, unused, in boxes scattered in many different locations. We are anxious to have a place that is ours and feels like home. It can be difficult to be here while most of our friends are in the exciting stage of purchasing homes and starting families. Neither of those things we can do here and it’s been a long 3 and a half years of not only waiting for that stage to come for us, but also trying to celebrate friend after friend live out that stage. And then again God gently reminds me, “This is not your home. This life is just a vapor. Your treasure is in Heaven.” The things of this life will pass away. A physical home has no eternal value. There is greater and more significant work to be done here than to spend my time wallowing over how we aren’t happy or comfortable. When I am blinded by my fleshly desire for comfort, I miss living out my purpose and calling. I miss making my short time here on Earth something of worth.
I love the lyrics from Starfield’s song, Something to Say. They sing, “Faith might mean there won't be answers and hope might mean enduring through the night, but help me not forget in darkness, the things that I believed in light”. It’s in those dark moments that we need to cling to the truth we believed in the light. We need to fight to not only remember but believe God's promises.
Friend, if this is you, feeling paralyzed by the question, “How are you?”, I want you to know that you aren’t alone and that I’m praying for you. I pray you know a peace that’s beyond all understanding, a peace that only comes from a relationship with the Living God who holds this whole broken, crazy world together. I pray that you find courage to be vulnerable and I pray that you hold tightly to the things of eternity and loosely to the things of this Earth. If you would like me to pray in more detail over you and your circumstances, feel free to contact me. I will gladly and boldly approach God’s throne on your behalf. He promises us, when we boldly approach His throne of grace, that we will find, “mercy and grace in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)