She reminded me how hard it is to crack open the doors of our lives to other people, not just the doors of our messy homes. How we get so used to being neatly packaged people and stories and families that we can forget how to be anything but “fine” when someone asks. Because there are messes much messier than the dust bunnies or gritty dishes. There are fears and doubts and despair and broken places that cut so deep it takes the breath away.
And we wrap them up in pretty packages of fine like so much lipstick over trembling lips.
We smile at birthday parties and play dates and in our cubicles. We smile at church and during worship and when the Pastor shakes our hand. We nod and smile and say we’re fine, the kids are fine, work is fine, marriage is fine, just fine, thanks for asking. And all the while there’s this big messy, gaping wound bleeding raw right through our perfectly fine outfit and we hope that one notices all the while desperate for somebody to care enough to see.
Oh sweet heart, sweet Nat, for a long time I hid my messes. I was afraid of them and afraid of what people would say and afraid that marriage could feel so messy. So I just kind of walked around with this bleeding gut wound, ignoring it and politely saying I was “fine” when anyone asked how I was doing.
Like maybe a Hello Kitty band aid could hold together the disaster that was living behind my living room door and bleeding out my guts.
Fine is so dangerous, isn’t it?
Fine means the end of a conversation. The beginning of nothing.
If Truth can set us free, best to start living in those places, right love?
It’s hard to admit our un-fine moments. But I’ve always found it’s in those moments that people can actually GET to us to help us. We need people. We are a body. And if one part is all bashed up and bleeding it hurts everywhere else.
Yes, let someone in, Nats. Let someone into your story.
It took me much too long to do so. It took my dad outing our broken places to my parents-in-law and them coming alongside with gentle, tender first aid. It took much more than we had.
And it was awkward and embarrassing and unpretty.
But it was also lavish, generous, grace.
And a beginning, Nat, it was a beginning.
Jesus is in the business of making all things new. And I’ve lived enough broken and loved enough friends through their own cracks to know that redeemed is not the same as fixed and that holes can still ache even when we’re whole again. Death, divorce, loss, heart break – admitting them doesn’t make us immune. Or cancel the loss. Or restore the missing.
But sometimes saying it out loud is an invitation to the God who already knows to lay Himself down in our rips and tears and hold us together – often through the arms of our friends. The people who’ve heard us whisper, un-fine.
It’s time to be brave now.
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