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Author of: The Notes They Played - a lyrical collection of short stories & The Impossible - a what-if story of the triumph over fear

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

NOT OKAY

 

Galatians 6:2 – Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

 Recently my daughter has had some serious health challenges. Most days she feels awful for hours. She has spent way more time on the couch, in pain, than any child anywhere should ever have to.

The first time someone asked her how she was doing and (feeling awful) she responded, “I’m good,” I thought to myself, “Well, she just doesn’t want to get into it.”

I’m sure she gets tired of talking about how awful she feels. Rating her pain on a scale from one to ten. Pointing out her headache locations and describing them as aching or throbbing or stabbing. Making guesses as to whether her nausea will lead to vomiting.

She is not always feeling well, but she has yet to say, in public, “I’m not okay.”  Every single time someone asks her how she is (unless it’s close family or a close friend), her response is, “Good” or “Fine.” 

I’m a mom, so of course her untruthful responses have made me wonder how I have modeled this for her. Have I communicated to her that it’s not okay not to be okay?

She lives with me, so she knows the “real” me. She knows when I am not good and fine. I have been out in the world with her professing things with me are great even when they are not. And she has watched me do it. She has seen me be sad or mad about something, put on my faux joyful face out in the world, and greet strangers with smiles and laughs. She has seen me being inauthentic, even as I have tried to raise her to be authentic.

I recognize that what I do will always have more impact on my children than what I say.

So it's time for me to say:

1)    You are so brave and I love that about you. I also love it when you aren’t brave because it gives us a chance to come together as a family to support you. No one can be brave all the time. No one should.  

 2)     It’s okay to tell the truth about how you are feeling, no matter who is asking. Not everyone can be trusted with what is on your heart, but you can always be honest. You can say, “I’m struggling right now. Please pray for me,” or “I’m not great, but I know this too shall pass.” 

 3)     Admitting to someone that you’re not okay might give them the push they need to offload some of their burdens too. We are on this earth to love one another well. Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is open an avenue for someone else to lament.  

It’s also time for me to model authenticity for them. I vow to:

1)  Always tell the truth when someone asks me how I am doing. This does not mean dealing personal details of my life to everyone who asks me, “How are you today?” But I can always admit to struggling and ask for prayer.

 2)     Ask people how they are and communicate that I really want to know the answer. Listen actively. Observe their body language and really see them. 

 3)     Ask for support from the people I trust, and offer support to everyone.

I don’t want my kids to ever feel like they have to be inauthentic for the sake of social comforts. And I want them to be the kind of humans who make room for others to share their authentically as well.

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