Recently, I smiled at a story my daughter told me about a little four-year-old friend. The little fellow was telling her about his older sister who was hit in the face with a softball. “Oh, no!” my daughter had exclaimed. “Is she alright? “Well,” he answered matter-of-factly, “she wasn’t then, but she is now!”
Later as I thought about the little guy’s comment, I realized there was actually a good deal of wisdom in his innocent reply. Sometimes, we’re not okay. We may have physical hurts and pains. Comments may scar and wound us. We may be scared, worried, lonely, or just downright angry or mad. We’re in a place that we don’t want to be and we’re not okay. While most of us find ourselves in that “not okay” place from time to time, the real question is what we do next. What do we do to get to a better place?
I’ve learned that it’s easy to get stuck in my “not okay” place. A couple of weeks ago, my back put me out of commission for about a week. I had to practically roll out of bed, stand up by sheer grit and determination as I would hoist myself up by clinging to a walking stick, and then I would clutch that stick for dear life until the back spasms would stop. It was not a pretty sight. I hurt and I didn’t like where I was. In the middle of my pain, however, there was little I could do but pray for relief and accept the help of others for the simplest of tasks. Needless to say, I was not okay.
I learned, or should I say, I re-learned, a lot about myself that short week. In addition to the pain, I began to feel sorry for myself. This was not the way I expected to begin the summer. I hurt. I was getting further and further behind with things I needed or wanted to do. I felt that no one could understand the depths of my hurt and despair. Poor me!
In addition, the more I bemoaned my condition, the more prideful I became. I hated for others to have to do things for me, or to do the things that I normally did. While I hated to burden others, however, I realized deep down that I really questioned if they would do things like I did. I mean I still remember the time my husband cleaned everything in the bathroom with a bottle of Windex!
When I wasn’t worrying about how well things were getting done, I was questioning if anyone really needed me. They seemed to be doing pretty well in spite of all the extra demands that I added. Poor me, again!
Do you see the cycle of depression I so easily drifted into? Soon I was becoming more crippled by my irrational thoughts than by my stressed-out back. But once again, as He has so many times before, God came to me right where I was. He didn’t wait until I started acting better or got myself straightened out. He met me where I was and helped bring me out of the depths where I had allowed myself to fall. What did He say?
- 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
This has always been one of my most favorite verses of Scripture. I remember its truth coming to me at one of the darkest times of my life when I lost our first baby. God ever so gently, then, and countless times since reminded me that nothing – absolutely nothing – could ever separate me from His love. I’ll be honest I cannot understand a love like that. Too often, human love demands we measure up and do what is expected. It doesn’t want to love us when we’re unlovely, when we’re bitter, when we’re not easy to love. But God loves us in spite of who, what, or where we are…..and that leads to the next thing I was reminded of.
- And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).
God’s love leads to grace. We are saved by grace and we live by grace. This verse reminds me that when I am at my lowest and weakest, Christ’s grace will still be sufficient. And even more His strength is perfect in my weakness. When I give up and let God, His power can be manifest in my life.
God reminded me that no matter what I’m going through I’m covered with His love and grace. It is in Him, in His Presence, that I can discover the way out of my “not okay” place. Psalm 91:1-2 states: “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”
In God’s Presence, we find whatever we need for the situation we’re in. Just consider a few of the things that the Book of Psalms remind us about what God’s Presence can mean in our lives. He is my shield (3:3); He lifts up my head (3:3); He is my refuge (9:9) and my strength (18:1); He is my support (18:18) and my shepherd (23:1); He is my helper (30:10); He is my hiding place (32:7); He is my joy (43:4); He is my defense (59:9); He is my God of mercy (59:10); He is my shelter and a strong tower from the enemy (61:3). It is God’s Presence that makes my “not okay” place alright. As I bring everything to Him and surrender it to Him, even when I hurt, even when I don’t like where I am, and even when I don’t understand, there in that sweet place I’ll find whatever I need to get me through whatever I’m facing.
I wasn’t okay in the midst of my pain, but God got my attention and reminded me of His Presence. I wasn’t alright then, but I am now!