I’m Not Fine

It has always been perfectly ok to not be “fine.” In these times, even more so. This whole pandemic thing can make one sad and even create the occasional meltdown. It’s called “being human” and welcome to the club, there’s seven billion of us – most of which are going through some level of anxiety.

There’s no shame in losing it. These are unprecedented times. No one knows exactly how to handle this (although too many have an opinion), because no one’s gone through this before. If anyone says they’re “fine,” they’re likely lying, at least to a small degree. I am, by and large, handling this reasonably. My blogging helps and I portray a stoic figure for others to lean on. All that considered, I have found myself at the end of some days, watching the 10PM news overwhelmed, exhausted, and out of sorts.

Staying at home by ourselves, not going outside, not having personal physical contact, not being able to do the things we’re used to, and constantly being concerned about our health, our finances, our family and the world as a whole, is exhausting. So, we’re not all “fine” and that’s ok! Most people do not want to burden other people with their personal problems. Responding that everything is OK, is being unselfish, willing to put aside our issues so that the focus of conversation is not on us.

When looking through the songs on my play list, yes – I made a COVID-19 playlist, two jumped out. Styx’s “Fooling Yourself” written by guitarist Tommy Shaw, in part as a message to bandmate Dennis DeYoung, who hated touring and often seemed miserable. It was years later that Shaw began to see himself in the lyrics, and the song took on a more personal meaning to him. The lyrics can apply to our situation if we believe that nothing is wrong.

You’ve got it all in the palm of your hand
But your hand’s wet with sweat and your head needs a rest
And you’re fooling yourself if you don’t believe it
You’re kidding yourself if you don’t believe it

Then of course there is an obvious one with Help! By The Beatles.

I never needed anybody’s help in any way
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self-assured
And now my life has changed in oh so many ways
My independence seems to vanish in the haze
But every now and then I feel so insecure
I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before

We have permission to get upset, just don’t go overboard. This is going to end. We will get to go camping, we will get to hug people, and we will get to be together as family, friends, colleagues. It is going to happen, just not tomorrow, next week, maybe not even next month – but it will happen.

We have the go-ahead to seek help from friends, family and if needed professional support. It is important to have people to open up to and trust. We can tell them, “no I’m not feeling that great right now.” If we don’t have those people, our issues can start to get worse and create larger health issues. One can only hold their breath for so long.

We must also do what we can to make sure others are ‘doing fine.’ Reach out to family and friends. Check in on people we haven’t engaged in a while. Find out how an older person in our neighborhood or church is doing; don’t assume someone else is taking care of that task. There are many volunteer opportunities as the demand has increased and the pool of typical volunteers has decreased. Look around, be intentional, we can serve others in this time. The benefit is not only for the recipient but serving helps us get to “fine.”

I too have been prideful and stubborn regarding expressing my true feelings. I hate being a burden and it’s always easier to just say ‘fine’ than to share difficult matters. Taking 10 intentional seconds to move beyond “I’m fine” means sharing our trials and allowing others to pray for us. The best response is honesty, it makes others feel less alone. Amid this adversity we can find connections, prayers, hugs, and solidarity. One of our deepest needs as humans is to be known, to be heard, and to be understood.

Eventually we feel that we are not seen, not heard, and even not loved; but with Jesus we don’t have to pretend we’re fine. Jesus is a comfort for the people who say everything is fine in their lives when it is not. The woman at the well (John 4:7-26) had to come face to face with what she had always known but had never admitted: she was not fine. Jesus reveals to her that her sin and her past was no obstacle for Him to love her. When we believe no one wants to fight for us anymore, Jesus is going to fight for us.

In Exodus (17:11-13), Moses during the battle with Amalek was not fine and needed help; “As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight. Moses’ hands, however, grew tired; so they took a rock and put it under him and he sat on it. Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands, each on one side, so that his hands remained steady until sunset.”

In the upper room after Jesus’ crucifixion, the Disciples were not fine. They waited in fear behind locked doors. They longed for strength and reassurance. Jesus visited them and encourage them. Emboldened by the power of the Holy Spirit, they went forth to spread Christ’s good news.

God is with us in the good and the challenging. Others are with us too. It is such a blessing.

You are fine. I am fine. We are all fine. Not. We need Him.

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