I’m Fine

“Good morning.  How are you?”  It was the pastor.  He is fairly young, new, and doesn’t know me too well.

“I’m fine. Thanks.”  I answered in a sing-song voice.  My face was smiling but my head was buzzing.  Why had I come in that door?  I was so not “fine”.  It had been the worst week I’d had in months.  The only “fine” thing I could imagine was that I knew this feeling wouldn’t last forever.  I’ve experienced life enough to realize feelings come and go.  This one would be no different.  I was certain it wouldn’t be gone that day.  It likely wouldn’t be gone the next day, and it probably wouldn’t be gone the next week.  But it would pass some day.  Maybe I should just leave my answer as it was based on my future expectation of one day being fine.  Nah.  I had passed by the pastor but was still looking back at him and smiling pleasantly when I decided to throw in the “P.S.”.  “And I lie well, too.”  Ohhh…  It sounded worse out loud than it had in my head.  But it was too late to bring it back now.  That wasn’t nice to do to the pastor.  And he hadn’t preached his sermon yet.  I hoped it wouldn’t interrupt his concentration.

My willingness to be vulnerable and admit at times that I’m “not fine” has given a few others permission to poke their heads out of the woods enough to say, “I’m not either.  Can we talk?”  I’ve come to realize that none of us are totally “fine”.  The ones who think they are haven’t paused long enough to look at themselves in the mirror.  We all live on planet earth where an enemy is roaming about seeking whom he can destroy.  If we stick around long enough, something is bound to come our way that leaves us feeling “not fine”. 

What do we do in our church when someone walks in the door “not fine”?  What should we do?  Should there be a ministry for every type of hurting heart?  Should there be a support group for single parents or care-givers?  Should an outreach team be organized for shut-ins?  Should we start a workshop on depression?  grief?  self-worth?  marriage enrichment?  There are so many ways a heart can hurt.  What should we be doing about it to help our members?

I had occasion to talk with a few people about that this week.  We were brainstorming.  And one person said, “All these things relate back to trusting God.”  Good point.  But you can’t hand out “trust in God” at the door with the bulletin. 

So what does it look like?  How does it all work?  I don’t know for sure.  We’re still brainstorming.  But I opened my Bible to read to the kids tonight in Romans and we happened to be on chapter 15.  The heading: Bearing Others’ Burdens.  “We then, who are strong ought to bear with the weaknesses of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”  We are to minister to each other.  Looking in Acts, the early Christians supported each other in very tangible ways. 

It seems as though there is a balance required here as in most things of life.  We are to learn to trust in God, for in Him alone is our hope.  But yet we are to rely on each other, providing strength where the other is weak.  And, as in most things in life, we’ll probably swing the pendulum too far one way, realize our mistake, then over-correct and swing it back the other.  Oh, for a magnet that would hold us in the middle!  I know – it’s there and has a name – Jesus.  We just don’t always seem to stick right on the Magnet.  Maybe after the Refiner’s fire the impurities of “self” will drip out and our metal will be more attracted to the Magnet.  Then we’ll be fine.

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  1. Lori Harvey

     /  March 5, 2011

    And again, thank you.

  2. Jennifer Rudisaile

     /  March 5, 2011

    Ahhh Syl, you are healing through your writing and helping others at the same time. It’s a good thing! I hope that today when you tell the Pastor you are fine it will be a little more truthful. : ) Maybe on Sabbath you should only think of your fun & happy memories….just because. : ) You are a blessing!

    • Little “secret”, Jen. People assume my grief is always related to my experience of becoming a widow. It’s not always. But I just let them think it’s widow grief. It keeps life less complicated and I earned that right. And… I’m fine. 🙂 Many good and happy memories from the past and many good and happy moments in the present.

  3. Connie

     /  March 5, 2011

    Think most of us have perfected the lying… Or “avoiding the door” technique 😉

    • I avoided the door altogether and went to a different church for a while. People meant well, but I got entirely tired of answering the questions- How are you doing? How’s Jeff? Just wanted to find a place where I could go and worship without being required to give an update. Arriving late and leaving early is a good technique as well. 🙂 We people are a tough balance. We want others to care- but not so much that they intrude.

      • Connie

         /  March 7, 2011

        When my mother was dying, I got sick of the questions too. However, never had a chance to get sick of them asking how I was doing. The only person through it all including family that asked how I was doing was my closest friend. Everyone else asked, “How is Kenny doing with it?” (my disabled brother) I guess I stuck with being polite while every cell in my body wanted to scream at them, :”She’s my mom too!”

      • I was always, “Fine. Thanks.” Too proud to break down and cry at church. It was different for me, too, since we’d just moved here. The only close friends I had at church were family- and they were “not fine” and smiling right along side me. How do we make church a healing place?

      • Actually, I guess my reply generally was “Hanging in there” to which the other person usually said, “I guess what other choice do you have?” “Exactly. None.” What really stung was when somebody said, “I saw Jeff this week. He looks great.” They had happened to see him during the 2 hours he’d had the strength to get out of the house. It was said loudly, across a large group of people in the crowded foyer as I was trying to run out the door. I wanted to say, “yeah, well, he’s DYING BTW” and crawl in a crack. Jeff was already on hospice at that time. I think that was the day I decided to go to CVC for a while. Then about 3 weeks after Jeff died – as I was running- I went to yet another church. Somebody in SS said if we follow God’s law we’ll be spared from the “diseases of the world like cancer”. I could not restrain myself. Shaking- I told them that was very hurtful and not Biblical. My question again- how do we make church a healing place?

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