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

Taking One Step At a Time

Anxious, depleted, and overwhelmed, I decided to take a break in December. Lord, do I need to discontinue this blog? What direction do You want me to take?

As I spiraled downward with indecision, God finally answered my prayers. Not with a definitive “yes” or “no,” but with a gentle guidance as He whispered, “My child, just take one step at a time. Live more in the moment. Don’t obsess over what the moments or steps thereafter will be.” And peace spilled into my heart as He assured me He will light my way one step at a time. As He encouraged me to trust Him more to lead me. As He reminded me to “be” rather than always thinking I need to “do.”

It can be hard to keep grasping His proffered hand and to trust Him no matter what, can’t it? Even when we can’t feel His presence while our lives fall apart, our longings and prayers are unmet, and the future is unknown and scary-looking.

I need to trust that God is faithful. To trust His heart when I don’t understand where His hand is leading. When He says He is holding my hand, He is. He never goes back on His Word. When we stray and take our own way, He will redeem us and lead us to the right path. When we fall, He will lift us up again to take the next step.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with My victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 NLT
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek His will in all you do,
    and He will show you which path to take.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
“For Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
    You rule throughout all generations.
The Lord always keeps His promises;

    He is gracious in all He does.
The Lord helps the fallen
    and lifts those bent beneath their loads.
The eyes of all look to You in hope;
    You give them their food as they need it.”
Psalm 145:13-15 NLT

“God won’t light your second step
until you have taken the first one.”
Woodrow Kroll

“As we trust God to give us
wisdom for today’s decisions,
He will lead us a step at a time
into what He wants us to be
doing in the future.”
Theodore Epp

“I will trust Him.
Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away.
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him;
in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him;
if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.
My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow
may be necessary causes of some great end,
which is quite beyond us.
He does nothing in vain.”
John Henry Newman

Trust His Heart
by Babbie Mason

“All things work for our good
Though sometimes we don’t see
How they could
Struggles that break our hearts in two
Sometimes blind us to the truth

Our Father knows what’s best for us
His ways are not our own
So when your pathway grows dim
And you just don’t see Him,
Remember you’re never alone

God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don’t understand
When don’t see His plan
When you can’t trace His hand
Trust His Heart
Trust His Heart…”

May God help us to take
one step at a time in 2020
and trust Him to lead us!

Precious Lord, Take My Hand

Do you have a song that often springs up in your thoughts when you feel weary and overwhelmed? One that identifies with the deepest longings of your heart? One that helps you to keep taking the next step forward?

Have you ever heard of the hymn “Precious Lord, Take My Hand?” It was written in 1932 by a man who lost his wife during childbirth. Their child, who seemed fine, died a couple of days later. In the throes of grief and despondency, Thomas Dorsey one day sat down at the piano and began to sing this song that we can identify with and be blessed by yet today.

I cannot count the times, whether I’m weary in body, mind, or spirit, when the words of this hymn bubble up in my heart as a desperate plea to God. The weariness isn’t immediately replaced with energy. The troubles overwhelming me don’t go away. There is no instant light in the stormy darkness of my soul. But there is a quiet strength in my spirit that reminds me God is with me. He will help me and get me through whatever is wearying or stressing me and He will keep leading me on to His light. And someday I will forever be home in His Presence.

“Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light:
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.”

As frail, broken children, we need God’s constant reassurance that He is leading us by His precious hand further on this journey to hope, healing, and freedom. It is a journey of pain and sadness, but it is also a journey of hope in Jesus. This same Jesus who had the power to rise from the dead has the power to hold us up. He descended into the darkest depths of despair and yet rose out of it. This same Jesus has the power to pull us up out of the pit of despair and despondency. He who has the power to walk on water and calm the raging seas will get us through every storm and night in our lives. Thank You, Jesus!

What song has special meaning to you?
Why? Will you share with us?