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

God Can and Does Use Our Stories of Pain for a Purpose

Our stories matter. Not only the blessings, but also painful experiences. Shame or the fear of rejection can tell us not to talk about the hard parts. But other hurting souls need to hear them to feel less alone and more understood. And it’s the pain of the journey that makes God’s loving rescue and redemption shine even more gloriously.

“Carry one another’s burdens
and in this way you will fulfill
the requirements of the law of Christ
[that is, the law of Christian love].”
Galatians 6:2 AMP
“He consoles us as we endure the
pain and hardship of life so that
we may draw from His comfort and
share it with others in their own struggles.”
2 Corinthians 1:4 VOICE
Meaningful Quotes

“To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.” (Brennan Manning) 

“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.” (Brennan Manning)

“Our stories of pain, adversity and overcoming in Christ are meant to serve as a testimony of God’s faithfulness and power, evidence that God really can take what the devil meant for evil and use it for good.”  (Tracie Miles)

“Because God gave you your makeup and superintended every moment of your past, including all the hardship, pain, and struggles, He wants to use your words in a unique manner. No one else can speak through your vocal cords, and, equally important, no one else has your story.” (Charles R. Swindoll)

“Out of fear, we repress, reshape and retell our stories in a way that displays our highlight reel instead of our messy behind the scenes acts. Although this version might seem easier to tell and may be well accepted, we do ourselves and others a huge injustice. When we tell a “highlight” story, we actually dull the very weapon God has given us to conquer the enemy, set people free and empower others.” (Kaitlin Garrison)

Scars
by I Am They
“Waking up to a new sunrise
Looking back from the other side
I can see now with open eyes
Darkest water and deepest pain
I wouldn’t trade it for anything
‘Cause my brokenness brought me to You
And these wounds are a story You’ll use
So I’m thankful for the scars
‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart
And I know they’ll always tell of who You are
So forever I am thankful for the scars…”

7 Days of Soul Care (Book Review)


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I feel nudged to repost this book review from nearly two years ago. The truths in this book are so needed in our lives and in this world. As I revisit these truths, they have again comforted my heart. I hope they will encourage yours, too.

Does your spirit feel empty, discouraged, and confused? Does it feel like you’re missing something important in your life? Do lies about God, yourself, or others torment you? Do you long to grasp your identity in Christ Jesus? Do you crave a deeper relationship with God?

Wearying of trying to fit her circle into the square expectation of certain key people, Dolly Lee prayed and asked God to show her how He created and designed her. God answered her prayer and led her on a deeper experience of His love.

The journey was far from easy. Through valley lows and mountain highs, God led her on a journey of self-discovery and a deeper experience of His love that can transform and redeem brokenness to beauty.

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Dolly’s personal battle with anxiety, depression, and  PTSD, and God’s transformation through His love and grace has birthed a book that will resonate with many. 7 Days of Soul Care: A Guide to Letting God Do the Extraordinary With Your Ordinary  “invites readers to surrender fear and to courageously embrace the journey of living more fully into his or her amazing true identity as God’s Beloved.”

Through creative (and some vulnerable) stories, Scripture, soul-searching journal questions, and heartfelt prayers, Dolly gifts us with highlights of what she learned over the past 17 years and continues to learn. With love and compassion, she invites us into a deeper relationship with God.

The top three takeaways Dolly wants readers to take to heart are:

God created you in love and for love.

God sees you as a masterpiece.

We won’t be able to fully receive God’s love when we believe lies about God, ourselves, or others.

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Some of my favorite quotes, one from each day, are:

Being exceptional begins with our connection with God. It has taken me decades to learn relationship with God begins first with our “being” and not with our “doing.”

We have worth because we are created in God’s image.

When I admit and experience my own brokenness and my failure to love well, I see in contrast God’s tender love and grace welcoming me back home. He calls me to rest my weary head on His chest. I don’t need to live by my own limited strength.

The more I remind myself of God’s unconditional love for me, the more I walk in freedom from people–pleasing and perfectionism.

Remember that the cross and not your circumstances are the measure of His great love for you.

I travel away from God whenever I forget I have all I need in Him and instead seek my soul’s fulfillment elsewhere.

It isn’t selfish to make time to care for our minds, souls, and bodies.

Life can get so busy, but that’s all the more reason to rest and nurture our souls. Our time will not be wasted as we read this book slowly and carefully so we can soak in refreshment for our thirsty, weary souls.

“I am the Vine; you are the branches.
The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit,
for [otherwise] apart from Me
[that is, cut off from vital union with Me]
you can do nothing.”
John 15:5 AMP

If you purchase this book, you will be contributing to a worthy cause – the International Justice Mission, a ministry that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. Dolly’s hope is to raise at least $500 out of her royalties for this book.

A Child's Trust

When Dolly needs to remember what is true about God and herself, she listens to songs. One of the songs she listened to during the writing process was “Here’s My Heart” by Casting Crowns.

dolly

Dolly Lee believes God’s love can transform a person from the inside-out if one surrenders to His love. She’s thankful God’s grace allows second acts and second chances. She attends Fuller Seminary and writes at her blog Soulstops.com where she invites readers to stop and connect with God. She lives with her family and one lovable dog in California where she loves to hike, read, share meals and laugh with family and friends. Her goal is to collect enough in royalties from the sale of her book, 7 Days of Soul Care, to donate $500 to the work of International Justice Mission.

* The two images were created by Dolly’s daughter.
* I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book but I was not paid to write this review. This is my honest review, based on information from Dolly and my own opinion.

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