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

Small Seeds of Love Are Never Wasted

“Love each other deeply and fully.
Remember the ways that I have loved you,
and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways.”
John 13:34 VOICE

I was sitting at my desk in my first grade class during recess. He ambled in from the fourth grade classroom, his smile warming my heart, making me feel special.

“Hi, Miss Van Veldhuizen. How are you today?” Conrad was different from many of us, not only because he had Down’s Syndrome, but because I could always trust that his greeting was never out of habit. I always knew he truly cared about my wellbeing and happiness.

It’s been over 30 years ago, but my heart still warms at the memory of him on the last day of school. Most students would wave good-bye as they boarded the bus, but Conrad took special care of greeting each of us teachers by name and wishing us a nice summer.

Conrad was limited in mental capacity, but he had an even greater gift. The gift of uninhibited love and kindness without prejudice. A way of making each person he met feel noticed, special, and cared about.

A smile. A sincere greeting. A caring heart. We don’t have to do big things that get noticed. We can do little things with an overflowing love that spills out of hearts filled from the bottomless well of the love of Jesus. Those little seeds we plant will not be wasted, because God can nurture them in some person’s heart. Like Conrad did in mine.

The memory of Conrad’s caring heart makes me want to love like him. But above all, when I remember the unfathomable, no-greater-love of Jesus, I want to love more like Him. May God teach us to love deeply and fully, remembering how much He loves us!

Every seed of kindness we plant,
However small, noticed or unnoticed,
Can bloom hope in the heart of a hurting soul,
A soul aching to be loved and cared about.
With the nurturing of God’s love and grace
Every tiny seed planted
Will grow and blossom,
Spreading fragrances of love to more souls,
Making a difference in this broken world.

“Teach Me to Love”
by Steven Green

New This Month: Links, Quotes, Books & More

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“And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.
So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God
than a whole flock of sparrows.”
Matthew 10:30-31

“More Than Many Sparrows”
by Andy Severyn

More than many sparrows
More than brightest gold
You’re worth more than people tell you
So much more than people know
Someone put a price on you
He said, “You’re worth dying for”
Yes, you’re precious in the eyes of the Lord…

 

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ABCs of Jesus’ Love

Visit this page anytime and let me know if you’d like to add to the words describing Jesus’ love along with a verse supporting it. Remember, there is also a print-out of the original list.

 This month I have added another “X” Word:

❤︎  eXemplary Love ❤︎
“Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV

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Books

I am not always able to keep up with the abundance of books that promote hope, healing, and freedom, so I haven’t always read every one I post here and on the Books Page. Though many are on my long wish list. 🙂 Many will be from recommendations of online friends. If you ever know of a book that is not listed and that supports this website’s mission, please let me know. 🙂

The book I’m highlighting this month is a fiction book from an online friend:

No Tomorrow by June Caedmon

There are some books I can’t get into at first, but this is definitely not one of them. The main characters, and even all the characters, immediately got my full attention. I just HAD to find out more about their lives.

This is an amazing story of God’s love and plan in Petra and Tony’s lives. There are no Christian platitudes here. The author shows the characters’ deep, authentic emotions as they deal with real-life struggles. I love the growth in Petra and Tony as they learn to let go and let God. To trust God and to desire His will in their lives. It is not a fairy tale ending as in some books. They will continue to struggle with uncertainties in their futures, but God is on their side.

An added bonus are the vividly painted scenes of Hawaii the author describes. Scenery I longed to drink in as Petra loved to do.

I highly recommend this riveting story of the hope and strength God gives in the midst of real-life struggles.

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Hope Harbor

💞  Links That Inspire Hope and Healing 💞

💞  Kintsugi: Beauty In the Broken Places by Lesley – “God takes our broken pieces and puts them back together in a way that displays his glory, because it is in the cracks and in the scars that we see evidence of healing and God’s power to restore.”

💞  Cloud Townsend Resources – Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend have been bringing hope and healing to millions for well over two decades, helping people discover solutions to life’s most difficult personal and relational challenges. These are free short videos that offer solid advice in the areas of relationships, dating, marriage, parenting, emotional struggles, spiritual life, goals and success, and leadership.

💞  When It Seems Impossible to Forgive by Dr. Julie Slattery – “When you have been deeply hurt or betrayed by someone—perhaps by a husband who is repeatedly unfaithful or a relative who is abusive—restoring that relationship can be complicated. While the Bible is clear that we are always to forgive people who harm us, forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean that we go back to relating as if nothing ever happened. A severe offense or a pattern of abusive behavior breaks trust, and a relationship cannot be close unless trust is rebuilt.”

Nature Retreat

“In God’s eyes, all creatures have value
whether we find them cuddly,
affectionate, beautiful or otherwise.”

~ Andrew Linzey

This month’s photos are all ones my brother in Arizona has shared with me.
They certainly make the long, cold winters in the Midwest more cozy.
Thank you, John.
🙂

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Acorn Woodpecker
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Red-back Dark-eyed Junco
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Mexican Jay

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Aren’t the lizards cute? 🙂
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Monarch Butterfly

🐾  Burrowing Owl Video – This video of burrowing owls from Cornell Lab is just so cute! I love it! Great message tied to it, too. We can learn so much from God’s creatures.

🐾  Macaulay Library of Birds – This is an extensive library of over 2 million photos of birds! You can search by location, date, or contributor.

🐾  Michael Libbe Photography – You’ll first see a slide show of breath-taking views of nature. If you scroll down, you can look at the photos by category.

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Quotes

❤︎ God is God. He sees and hears all our troubles, all our tears. Soul, forget not, in your pains, God over all forever reigns.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

❤︎ We are not called to be perfectly awesome. We are called to be imperfectly faithful, because we have been perfectly loved, liberated, and highly esteemed by the Most High.” ~ Scott Sauls

❤︎ “A brook would lose its song if it had no rocks.” ~ Amish Proverb

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