So often, when you admit to someone that you are having a hard time with a situation, you hear things like: “it will be OK,” “others would love to have what you have,” “cheer up,” “be grateful,” “it could be worse.” It’s like people are so uncomfortable with hearing how not OK things are, that they wind up responding with attempts to make whatever you are going through immediately “better.” The problem with this, is things don’t always actually get better as a result of someone coming up with a quick, well-intentioned, cliche. These sayings can actually diminish what a person is feeling and going through. The pressures to meet the standard of appearing OK again, pushes people into pretending they are OK, when they aren’t yet.
When I am really not OK, what I’d like to hear is, “I will sit with you right here. In the mess. In the ugly. In the not OK. And, I won’t force or expect you to come out until you are ready. I won’t expect that being OK is easy or quick. I will meet you right where you are at, until you are ready to come out.”
Now, it is true, that on many days, I can see the bright side of situations and adversity.
But, it is also true, that on some days, I really struggle to find it.
Most days, I can see the marvel and the joy, that autism and ADHD have brought into our world, more than I can see the overwhelming challenges from it. On these days, the inspiration in my children is spectacular.
But, some days, I see only the ways I am unequipped to manage and sort out motherhood well.
Many days, I am thankful for how each one of us in my household has grown in the hard times.
But, some days, I feel jealousy over others who “seem to have it easier.” But, I know that is an ugly place to let my head go, and I try quickly to rearrange my focus.
Often, there are days, where I am well aware of the wonderful help that is available, through friends, family, and the special needs ministry at my church. Those days, feeling grateful comes with ease.
But, some days, I feel extreme frustration and exasperation at my kids, myself, and my husband.
Many days, I have the energy to fight and win at scheduling, planning, arranging and rearranging, and advocating for my boys like you wouldn’t believe.
But, some days, I feel like I am being crushed under the weight of the world on my shoulders and that I am in this alone.
Some days I have a knot all day in my stomach. Sometimes I don’t even know why. And sometimes I know every single reason why I am anxious. I can picture each and every outcome clearly that I am hoping to prevent. Neither cause feels better, some days.
On those days, I don’t want to hear “it will be OK.” Some days I just need to lean my head on a caring shoulder, and just not be OK. I know that at some point I will likely be “OK.” But, in those moments, I need you not to convince me for it to come too soon. Being human is not a constant high of happiness and satisfaction. Life is all about the beautiful mess in between the happy and the sad. There are highs and there are lows. I don’t have the energy to pretend that I am always OK. (Nor should I have to).
So, next time you hear someone say something like “I am having a really hard time with …,” consider just sitting next to them. Let them rest their head on your shoulder, and let them be not OK. These are the moments that define our character and who we will become on the other side of not being OK. These are the crucial times where we begin to grow, to see what we are made of, and what we can make it through. We learn to overcome adversity when we acknowledge it, and not deny it.
So, there are days where I will smile, and I will tell you all that has been overcome. But some days, I won’t. On those days, I’ll need to tell you what I have been struggling to overcome, while I am still in the midst of the pain and the processing and am, quite possibly, nowhere near reaching the peak of overcoming that mountain yet. On these days, respectfully, I ask, please don’t tell me it will all be OK. On these days, a compassionate glance, and a reminder you’ll be there for me through the thick and the thin will be the best thing you can do for me.
Yes, many days, nothing can stop me.
But, some days, I won’t lie and say that I feel OK about everything. Even though, it’s sort of what most people want to hear. I am not broken, when some days are harder than others. And neither are you. What I will attempt everyday, is to be unashamed to be me. Honest and vulnerably real. I will be unafraid to help others feel less alone, because people need to hear, that even the “strong ones,” are not always “OK.”
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever,” Psalm 73:26.
My situation doesn’t always feel good. But, my God is always good, and He is with me all the days of my life.
I am so glad that He shows me more grace than I show myself.