What to Say When We Aren’t Fine

This week I began reading The Anxious Christian by Rhett Smith (awesome book by the way) and was blown away by something written in the introduction by author John Acuff about his own struggle with anxiety.

That’s one of anxieties greatest tricks-it tries to isolate you, to put you on an island by yourself, to make you believe everyone else has it figured out except you.  You’re the weird one.  Better bottle that fear up and hide it.  Better not tell anyone your feeling anxious.  Better start to use the Christian F Word:  Fine.” 

That paragraph really hit me hard because for most of my ministry when dealing with a struggle or challenge I would always tell people I was fine…even when I wasn’t.  There are a few reasons for this but the greatest one was so everyone would believe I had it all together or could take care of my own problems.

Of course this is a huge pride issue, but it actually goes deeper than that.  We all have preconceived notions about how a Missionary (or Christian, husband, wife, child, ect.) should act.  It’s when we don’t live up to those standards that the little voice in our head begins to say, “better not let anyone know you are struggling.”  And eventually we start hiding every weakness or pain behind an emotionless brick wall of the word “fine.”

Here’s the problem with that voice in your head, it lies to you.  We all struggle from time to time and fall short of what we would perceive to be success.  So instead of banishing ourselves to the island of isolation filled with discouragement and self-pity…we can experience the love of Christ by sharing those needs in a way that honors Him.

We all have problems saying we are fine when in reality our heart is broken; for me most of those situations have to do with financial need.  There are many excuses for doing this but the greatest is how helpless it makes me feel.  Now this goes back to the pride issue, but relying on the giving of others makes me feel like a person standing on the side of the road with a “will evangelize for food” sign.

I am very grateful God showed me how this response to financial need had nothing to do with being embarrassed and everything to do with my selfish sin nature.  This doesn’t mean I should go to the opposite end of the spectrum and begin sharing my needs every minute of the day.  Instead this is about being ready when people ask how things are going to simply be real and say, “you know what I am having some money issues you can pray with me about.”

Trust me I know taking a sledgehammer to the image of yourself that has it all together is hard.  But let me tell you a little secret….they know you aren’t perfect.  Ninety-eight percent of the time our friends, the real ones, see straight through our fortress of “I am fine” and realize there is a deep need.  All we have to do is stop using the Christian F word.

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John Wilburn

Missionary Living, Explaining, and Proclaiming the Gospel in the Suburbs of Melbourne Australia

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