Do We Say We’re Fine When We’re Not?

“I say, ‘I’m fine, yeah, I’m fine,
oh, I’m fine, hey, I’m fine’

But I’m not, I’m broken”
(“Truth Be Told” by Matthew West)

When someone asks you how you are, do you say you’re fine when you’re not? I do. It just pops out like an auto response.

Do you ever wonder why we do that?

After hearing a song by Matthew West, I’ve been trying to dig deeper within myself.

As a pastor’s son, Matthew West grew up feeling he needed to put on an outward appearance that he’s fine. Even when he felt broken inside. Even when things felt out of control.

He learned there were two lies in his life:

  1. We’re supposed to have it all together, so we should put on a smile.
  2. Everybody’s life is perfect except ours, so we should keep our messes, wounds, and secrets safe within us behind closed doors.

As I examine my own heart, I know I often hide behind a smile. Even though I’m aching inside. I’m so tired of following what was deeply rooted in me as a child from church and home that I should keep messes, wounds, and secrets buried in my heart.

Probably the biggest reason I often feel silenced is fear of being judged, rejected, and slandered again. When I told the truth about a minister who abused me, I was not believed in the church and many people heaped me with guilt and shame. When I told who I thought would be lifetime friends the truth, they rejected my truth and abandoned me. Bible verses have been taken out of context and flung at me to tell me how sinful I am.

Another big reason is that I feel my truth doesn’t matter, because I don’t matter. In the church we grew up in, children were not valued as Jesus values them. And because of some abuse at home, too, I felt like I didn’t matter and I was never good enough. God has helped me to learn this is a lie, but it still rears up at unexpected moments when I’m feeling vulnerable.

In his song, Matthew voices that some churches are lacking in welcoming and supporting the hurting. There may be signs to come as we are, but if we lived like that was true, the pews would be crowded.

Jesus wants churches to be places of refuge and safety, not places where we hide our messes and wounds out of fear of judgment and rejection. Not places where hurting people’s burdens are made heavier with shame and guilt.

“Stoop down and reach out
to those who are oppressed.
Share their burdens,
and so complete Christ’s law.”
Galatians 6:2 MSG

Not only in churches, but in various social circles, we’re often afraid to let our truth be told. What will people think? Will they judge me? Will I be hurt again?

The reality is not everyone wants to hear our messes or wounds. Not everyone will care or understand. Not everyone will believe or support us. But that doesn’t make our stories any less true or important.

It has often been my comfort over the years that there is One who already knows the deepest secrets, messes, and wounds of our hearts. He is a faithful Friend, a compassionate Savior, and a caring Supporter who will always understand. There is no failure, no fall, no sin, no deep wound that will ever turn Him away or keep Him from loving us.

“But everyone my Father has given to Me,
they will come. And all who come to Me,
I will embrace and will never turn them away.”
John 6:37 TPT

Are you feeling broken, but don’t dare to share your story? When we leave it behind closed doors, it subconsciously festers and harms ourselves and others. It may not be easy, especially when we meet with resistance and rejection, but through Christ and His strength, we can learn to take the risk anyway. And even if our stories aren’t received by all, there just may be someone who needs to hear it and will feel less alone and more understood.

Truth Be Told
by Matthew West

27 thoughts on “Do We Say We’re Fine When We’re Not?

  1. Dear Trudy,

    Every bit of this post spoke to me,
    And I want to thank you for that.

    “Let the truth be told”
    It is hard to explain to you where I am at right now.
    It is a place between the past and the future.
    A place where I am on the precipice of something new,
    Something big,
    But I don’t know what.
    And my truth is boiling up within me,
    And I feel like my truth needs to be told,
    But I don’t know where or how.
    And I wait on God…
    But the darkness is in front of me,
    And I don’t know which way to turn.
    I stand on this single stepping stone,
    And it is slippery,
    And the water is all around me,
    And I am scared to go forward,
    Cause I don’t really know which way to go,
    And I can’t find God’s hand to hold onto,
    So,
    I sit down on this slippery wet stepping stone,
    And my dear aunt writes a letter,
    And I read it,
    And I pray,
    And I wait…

    Thank you for sharing your story.
    I know how important it is for you to share it, and how important it is to have that safe place to share it.
    There is a calling that comes up in me sometimes to start a ministry,
    But I don’t know how, or when, or what type of ministry, or who I am here to start it with.
    But, as I reread this, it comes up again in my heart.
    So…
    I will let God do his work, whatever it may be…
    And I will sit on this stepping stone and wait for his hand to take me to that next step,
    Cause I need his hand to move forward.
    And I will thank God for bringing me this message.

    With Love,
    Shelley

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Shelley, I’m so glad it spoke to you. My heart aches for you. You are going through such a painful journey in more ways than one. I so identify with that feeling of standing on that slippery stepping stone, afraid to go forward. I will keep praying for you, also for guidance. And thank you for your empathy, support, and understanding. You minister to me more than you know. You often validate my own feelings. I love you, too, my dear niece. May our hearts be wide open to God’s further healing and for whatever God has in store for us, even if it’s hard!
      P.S. As always, I love your poetic gift with words. 🙂

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  2. This song is special to me too. Too often we do say, “I’m fine” when we’re not. I’ve not been feeling totally fine lately; the pandemic is taking its toll on my mental health. Too often in Christian circles, we’re not supposed to admit that; it appears to be a lack of faith. But to the contrary, I think God wants us to have enough faith to be honest with each other. Thank you for always setting the standard of truth-telling here for the rest of us! Love you much!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you, Lisa, for being honest. I feel for you. It’s so true that too often in Christian circles, struggles with mental health are considered a lack of faith. It’s so sad. You said, “But to the contrary, I think God wants us to have enough faith to be honest with each other.” Amen! Thank you! Love you, too! May God strengthen us in this time of great anxiety and uncertainty!

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  3. Oh, Trudy, tears are standing in my eyes after reading your most touching and heartfelt post. Too often, what we say and do as the church are just the opposite of what Jesus commands us to do – to welcome everyone with ears willing to listen and a heart ready to show empathy and understanding. It has never been, and never will be, our place to judge others or ever, ever demean them because of things that happened that were out of their control. We must love one another deeply just as God loves us. I’m praying for you, and so thankful that you could find the love and acceptance you deserve in our beloved Lord.
    Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tears stand in my eyes as I read your love-filled comment, Martha. Thank you for your compassion and prayers. God’s love and acceptance is such a priceless blessing. May we more and more love one another deeply just as God loves us!

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  4. Dear Trudy,
    Your words always bring such sweet comfort as you share. Thank you for touching our hearts so deeply. I am so grateful that you have always encouraged me to share honestly when it has been difficult to write about my own weaknesses and woundings over the years. You have allowed the Lord to create such a safe atmosphere and fellowship here. I pray that you will know how much blessing you have brought! Blessings, love, and prayers for you dear sister!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Bettie, thank you so much for your continuing love, encouragement, and prayers. Your kind words here touch me deeply. I do have difficulty in believing I’m a blessing to anyone, so thank you for all your support both here, in your posts, and by email. Blessings, love, and prayers to you, too! May our God of all hope fill our hearts to overflowing of His love and grace, and may it flow out to anyone we meet!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. To feel known and safely loved is what Christ does and wants for us. Why is that so hard? The following sounds like such a little thing but it has kept me from going to church. Our church requires registration to attend currently. Then you are seated in your cohort (people you regularly live with). The seats are separated into groups of 5 or 6 (from what I see). So, to go as a single, I’d be taking up the 5 spaces when a family of 5 could be there instead. So I don’t go. I don’t think it is the churches intention to have spaces only for those that are not alone. Christ calls the lonely and alone to Him, and wants the church to show that love too! But these small little things can creep in and cause one to not feel welcome in a space that is called to welcome in all-even those that are alone. I smile and say it is fine, and I understand, and I am choosing not to take up space…but…deep in my heart and mind, I can feel like it is not ‘ok’ being a single in a church. We have to be so careful that the enemy does not get a foot-hold during these times!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh Lynn, I’m so, so sorry you’re not feeling welcome, known, and safely loved there. That isn’t a “little” thing. Thank you for sharing your honest feelings. They matter! I think we often put on a smile and say we’re fine, because we think it’s too “little” of a thing compared to others. But to Jesus, it’s never “little.” I’m so grateful you know in your heart that Christ calls the lonely and alone to Himself. Yes, the church and other Christian circles should show that love, too! May we all learn to practice the love that Jesus gives to us and to make every individual feel known and safely loved!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Awww, Trudy. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the pain you lived through, for the lies that resulted. I know you’re learning this . . . you matter. You are precious in Jesus’ eyes. You are valued. Your story is important. Jesus sees you through eyes of tender love. You are seen, my friend. And no, we’re not always fine.

    I’ve learned there are people who get to know my deeper story. But those people have earned the gift of my sharing all of myself with them.

    thank you for sharing your beautiful story and truth. Thanks for being vulnerable here, and for trusting us with your story. Sending a virtual hug and blessings your way, friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your compassion and encouragement touch me deeply, Jeanne. Thank you. You’re always supportive. I’m so glad you have those you trust with your deeper story. That’s such a blessing. There are details of my story that I only share with a trusted few. God is pressing me to keep striving to be more authentic and to speak out more about the truth and the pain of abuse. I know there are so many who are hurting from abuse and need to know they’re not alone and there is hope for them in Jesus. Without Him carrying me through to today, I would have ended my life more often than once. Virtual hugs and blessings back to you! May we cling to Jesus and rest in our identity in Him and His incomprehensible love and grace!

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  7. Yes, I often say I’m fine when I’m not. I have become much better at being honest than I used to be but only with certain people that I trust. It’s so important to have those people even if we don’t feel we can share with everyone.
    And thank you for sharing your story! It matters, and you matter, and I’m sorry you’ve had such horrible and unhelpful responses when you’ve shared it in the past. Thank you for your courage and vulnerability that helps to create that safe space for others to share.
    I love, and share, your vision for the church to be known as a safe place where people can come and find acceptance, love and healing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind encouragement and understanding, both here and in the posts you share, Lesley. Yes, it is so important to have people we can trust. I knew you would share my vision of church being a safe place of acceptance, love, and healing. Your courage in the church you’re now in inspires me. I’m so glad God led you to it. Also to the ministry for the abused you now work with. May God give us to grace to speak up for those who have no voice and to point them to hope in Jesus!

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  8. Thank you for sharing your painful journey with us Trudy, I’m saddened to hear man’s self righteousness & fears caused them to turn their back on you when you needed them most.
    But I’m encouraged & gladdened that you found God has always been with you & has brought you through that time victoriously.

    I have struggled with this question & still find myself stumbling at times when asked, people don’t necessarily want to actually hear how much pain I’m physically in or that I feel so fatigued with chronic health issues all the time.
    So I concentrate on my spiritual health instead 😉 answering “I’m great spiritually, thank you” because how can I not be when I have such an amazing Savior!
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First of all, I’m sorry you deal with so much pain and fatigue, Jennifer. I pray God will give you strength and peace for each day. I have chronic lung disease, and I get so fatigued sometimes I can’t think clearly. I often try to put on a brave face and say I’m fine even on days when I’m not. It just pops out, “I’m ok. How are you?” But sometimes it bothers me that I wasn’t entirely truthful. Although in a spiritual sense, I really am ok, right? I really love your answer! 🙂 Thank you for sharing that! Does anyone ever ask you what you mean? May we always rest in our Savior who has already won the victory for us!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you Trudy, His comfort is all encompassing in our season of chronic health conditions, isn’t it!
        Yes, many people do ask me, I’ve noticed my answer takes them aback, its not what they were expecting nor one they’ve heard before.
        It brings some great opportunities 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh, Trudy, there’s so much here that’s heartbreaking. I’m so sorry for all the rejection and pain others have caused you. I just want to wrap you in a warm hug and tell you about all the ways you are impacting my life for good, and helping so many, many people to discover and hold onto hope in the darkest of circumstances. The wounds and secret hurts of the past might stay as scars, but our brokenness is no surprise to God. He alone has the remedy and healing we need for all our hurt, rejection and pain.

    I believe that churches should be more like hospitals for the hurting than isolating communities and cliques. All should feel welcome and accepted just as they are, on the way to all they are becoming by God’s grace. So much of your story resonates with me. I’ve also been rejected by friends and family through sharing my story, and kept at a distance by church folk unable to hear or bear the festering, open wounds I’ve had. But God doesn’t treat us like that. I sense your hurt and feel it like my own, but I also see how very much you have been enabled to open up in this lovely, safe, fully accepting space you have created. Hang in there, my friend. Memories will sting yet they cannot alter how you and I are being changed. Much love, empathy and hugs! xo 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for all your continuing love, empathy, and support, Joy. I always sense your deep empathy of having been there yourself. I’m so sorry you experienced the rejection of family and friends, too. That hurts even more when it’s someone we love. “Memories will sting yet they cannot alter how you and I are being changed.” Oh, so true. Thank you! God is healing us layer by layer in spite of rejection and the lack of support. May we rest in Him who will never, ever forsake us and loves us so much! Love, empathy, and hugs to you, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you, Trudy, for sharing more of your story. I can relate to answering the question of how I am doing with an “I’m fine.” I have done it for years. But I have learned that by saying “I’m fine” I am not being honest to myself or others. You inspire me to be more open in sharing who I am because of your own honesty about your abuse growing up. I’m sorry you were hurt by the church and friends. Through Christ, we find our strength and we can take the risk because he has our backs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your caring compassion, Mary. Yes, though not always easy, through Christ we can find our strength to take the risk. I’m so grateful He’s got our backs! May we lean into His strength and grace to get us through!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh Trudy … I love how you keep sharing your heart even when what you’ve been through in your past tempts you to stay silent. Your words encourage so many, that is obvious! I especially loved this: “The reality is not everyone wants to hear our messes or wounds. Not everyone will care or understand. Not everyone will believe or support us. But that doesn’t make our stories any less true or important.” Keep encouraging us to share our stories, my friend, and thank you for always pointing us back to Jesus. Love and hugs …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your love and encouragement, Lois. I’m glad you were encouraged. I hope you continue, too, to share your stories. Like in your wonderful book. And in your honest feelings of grief about the loss of your parents. And the lessons God teaches you through all your struggles. You have encouraged me often. May God fill our hearts so full with His hope and grace that it overflows to others!

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  12. I, too, am so sorry for the trauma you have experienced in the church, Trudy–the last place where such painful experiences ought to occur. Yet you haven’t let that stop you from taking the risk to be vulnerable and share, knowing there may be someone who needs to hear your story, someone who will feel less alone and more understood as a result of your honesty. I can see a positive ripple effect from your openness, too. May your tribe increase!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your compassion and encouragement, Nancy. It’s not easy to open ourselves up to vulnerability, but there are so many who need to feel they’re not alone. May we love like Jesus does us!

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