Christian music artist Matthew West has a new song out. The song starts:
Lie number 1: you're supposed to have it all together, and when they ask how you're doing, just smile and tell them, "Never better”.
Lie number 2: everybody's life is perfect except yours, so keep your messes and your wounds and your secrets safe with you behind closed doors.
Truth be told, the truth is rarely told. Now I say I'm fine, yeah I'm fine oh I'm fine, hey I'm fine but I'm not; I'm broken. And when it's out of control I say it's under control but it's not, and you know it. I don't know why it's so hard to admit it…
I was reminded of these lyrics this week when a family friend was checking in and asked how the family was doing after all the changes we have seen this year. I found myself telling my friend that “we’re survivors, we’re figuring it out”. I stopped and realized, that here I am a mental health professional, sweeping the pain and anguish of the last year under the rug and not allowing myself to connect with this friend who really wanted to help me carry my load for a little while.
Human connection is a powerful thing. In Genesis 2:18 God speaks the powerful words,”It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him”. We know that this refers to the creation of Eve, but psychology researchers have known for years that we are social creatures and we thrive only when we feel connected. As a Christian, I know that it is because we were never meant to be alone. So what’s this got to do with telling everyone I’m fine? Ever struggled to carry a suitcase up a set of stairs? The heavier the suitcase and the steeper the flight of stairs, the harder it is to do. You know, when someone comes along and offers to pick up the other end of the suitcase, suddenly the struggle is diminished and the top of the stairs are more easily reached. We all carry a suitcase of stress and worry around with us everyday. I sometimes wonder if mine isn’t filled with rocks. The point is, we can struggle up the stairs of life lugging our suitcases on our own telling everyone, “It’s ok, I got this”, or we can admit that we are struggling and ask for help.
The chorus of Matthew West’s song ends like this: “ …when bein' honest is the only way to fix it. There's no failure, no fall, there’s no sin You don't already know. So let the truth be told”. This chorus reminds me that the first place to turn when I am burdened is God. 1 Peter 5:7 exhorts us to “cast all your anxieties on Him, because he cares for you”. Often my day to day stress can be adequately handled through my prayer time. But what happens when I’m still feeling stressed out even after praying over it? That’s when the power of human connection becomes the answer. I admit that I am struggling with my oversized suitcase and let a friend know that I’ve packed too many worries and stresses to carry on my own. Connection is powerful.
So, the next time someone asks how are you doing, be honest.