Four Reasons to Stop Saying “I’m Fine.”
I’ve been putting off writing this for a while. I haven’t known how to talk about it. I’m not sure that I even know how to now, but I want to regardless. This is just a part of the story.
Several weeks ago, I sat in an eye clinic lobby at the University of Iowa Hospital. We live in Ohio, so we drove part way the night before, and finished the trip that morning. I didn’t sleep much that night – you know the kind of sleep I had, the gonna miss the flight if we oversleep-style freaky near-sleep thing people do. It’s not restful. I wished I had just driven straight through.
We used to live in Iowa City, where the hospital is, so when we got there, we did a quick trip down memory lane and visited the two streets we lived on before going to my husband’s eye appointment.
He’d had heart surgery just a little over a week before our trip.
Iowa City was familiar to us both. We lived there nearly ten years.
So when the doctor’s assistant came out to visit with me and asked, “How are you doing?” with great compassion, because she knew we’d driven over 7 hours, because she knew about his surgery, because she knew he was losing his eyesight. I think I slipped a little bit back into “the old days” and replied, “I’m fine. How are you?”
In other words, I lied to her.
When we lived in Iowa, I was new to Christianity. REALLY new. As in, accepted Christ there, made Him Lord of my life there… and bought the lies of the Christian culture that said, “If you are Christian, you are happy all the time – because You Have the Joy joy joy joy down in your heart-style happy. (that’s a Christian kids’ song, if you didn’t recognize it)
And so, back then, when people would ask me how I was, I would smile widely and say, “I’m GREAT!” with grand enthusiasm. Because I had Jesus and that makes everything perfect, right?
Given that I’m a perky person anyway, it was actually often true that I was happy. But… life happens, and I didn’t change my answer when my heart was aching.
Although, sometimes I would make a down-grade to “I’m fine.”
Which sometimes was still a lie.
Sometime after we moved to Ohio, I decided to stop lying to people. Mind you, I didn’t become that awkward woman who just needs someone to say, “TMI” to her, I don’t think I drone on and on about my bunions (I don’t actually have bunions, not sure what they even are, but you get what I’m saying here…), but I did start telling the truth about how I was.
I’d say, “Hanging in there,” to people who I didn’t need/want/have time to explain myself to.
I’d say, “Lousy,” or “Exhausted,” or even, “Sleep deprived,” and even, “Excited,” when speaking to those I considered friends or had time to explain things to.
But in Iowa, a few weeks ago, I lied to someone who was about to show me empathy.
It was odd, because the night we left, a friend was dropping off a meal for our family. It was around 6pm, and she didn’t know we were leaving for this appointment. She asked me, “Are you okay?” I was already crying, and I said, “No, I’m not. I’m driving to Iowa City now, as in the car is running and he’s in it waiting on me… so he can see a specialist there about his eye tomorrow morning. PLEASE JUST TELL ME I can do this – I’m scared and exhausted already. It’s a 7+ hour drive.”
She hugged me and said, “You can do this.” She told me she’d be praying.
The next morning, I lied to the doctor’s assistant and didn’t receive a gift from God because I didn’t tell the truth.
We ended up leaving Iowa around 7pm that night. I drove all the way back to Ohio without stopping for the night. When I got home, our boys were dozing, waiting for us… even though it was nearly 3am.
When one asked me if I was okay, I started to cry and said, “I am now.” They hugged us, carried suitcases, and encouraged us to go to bed. At the time, what I said was the truth. But it was a short term truth, not a big-picture-style truth.
And then for about two weeks, I didn’t talk about how I really was with anyone.
In my defense, I’m not sure I even knew how I was, myself, until Christmas Eve. We went to church and sat in the back, and all I could do was cry. Tears ran down my face the entire time. Grateful for what God had done in saving my husband’s life, I listened to our church body sing… and I just cried. A few people noticed we were there, even though we tried to sneak in and out so as to not wear him out with conversation and standing, and the hugs were wonderful. I didn’t want to let go.
I cried some more.
When asked, “How are you doing?” I told the truth. I said, “I don’t know. Happy to be here. Thankful. Exhausted.” Then I cried again.
A few weeks later, the leadership team of our ministry started pursuing me.
I finally let them catch me.
When they asked how I was, I said, “I’m sorry. I’m failing everyone. I’ve missed commitments. I’ve let you down. I don’t know what to do.”
It was all true.
They prayed for me, allowed me to be more transparent with them than I’ve ever been with just about anyone, and healing took place. I’d never experienced such grace and mercy, forgiveness and love in my life. It was beautiful. As a result, we’re tighter now than we were before.
When I apologized for the great delay and my absence online to the 50 women in the launch team for Daughters of Sarah (we were supposed to be up and running by then) I was met again with grace. They said something to me that left me stunned – You’re doing what you’ve encouraged us to do, to focus on our family first.
I didn’t even know.
Funny how the Spirit can do a thing – and you don’t even know it. Actually, I think that’s when we’re at our best, when it is Him people see in us.
And just as notable is how the enemy had me convinced that I was letting everyone down. Made me feel worthless. Made me wonder how I even held a job, much less ran an organization.
Because of the sleep deprivation, my behavior was beginning to line up with the thoughts he was planting… I missed my own exit coming off the freeway. I drove completely by my best friend’s house – thinking she had company, when all the while, I was just confused. I couldn’t remember hardly anything. I floundered mentally, searching for simple words.
I was convincing myself that I really was inept – now that there was even evidence to prove it so. What I didn’t know was that the part of my brain called the hippocampus was affected by the lack of sleep and constant state of alertness (you bring home a heart surgery patient and see if you aren’t constantly looking for signs of a problem – especially when they give you tons of info on the bazillion things that can go wrong…). What happened to me was physically normal.
And the enemy kept up his relentless banter of why I should just stop doing ministry all together, all the while pointing out how I was also a terrible wife.
It was relentless.
I had forgotten who I was, and Whose I am.
But he and I were wrong.
He was separating me from others, isolating me, keeping me from receiving love, grace, and encouragement. He also kept me from sharing with my husband, so as to “not be a burden” to him while he was recovering.
But God finally revealed the truth to me through these sweet women.
That made me really happy. Joy-style happy.
So I’ve learned a few things over the last month with regards to the truth of how we really are. I’d like to share them with you.
Four Reasons to Stop Saying You’re “Fine.”
- “I’m fine,” is often a lie, and lying is a sin.
- You miss blessings from others, which means you miss a gift from God.
- This simple truth-telling will more deeply connect you with others.
- You give the enemy opportunity to seriously start stealing your joy.
So STOP saying “I’m Fine.”
Take the risk of being real.
It will change everything.
I read a book over the break by Beth Moore, titled, “When Godly People do Ungodly Things.” It wasn’t anything I thought it would be.
It’s a book everyone in ministry should read. She didn’t want to write it – but God kept putting people in her path that had serious battles going on that either did or nearly put an end to something valuable: marriage, life, ministry, etc. She found that there are 16 common happenings amongst people who find themselves in a fight with the enemy. Like them, I didn’t even realize that’s what was going on at the time.
He’s really good at what he does. He’s had a lot of practice with human behavior.
I hate him.
I think that’s probably okay.
And so now, I’m back. Not full time, mind you – we’re still doing doctor’s appointments, cardiac rehab, and still VERY concerned but prayerful about my husband’s vision loss, and still easing into what life looks like now, post-surgery. The launch of Daughters of Sarah will happen, just a little later than I thought originally and while I’m having to apologize to the ton of people waiting on it, His timing is always perfect… and obviously I’m blogging a bit again. So “normal” is beginning to begin again, whatever THAT means… LOL 🙂
It’s all good.
So today, I am seriously asking you – have you done battle? I mean the kind that nearly makes you quit-style battle? The kind where you forget who you were and Whose you are? How did YOU get out of it?
Honestly, I’m feeling a little vulnerable in even asking the question. So there’s that. But I refuse to be anything less than transparent.
Because it’s not my life.
I gave it to Him.
How about you?
Glad we’re on the journey together. Seriously stinkin’ glad. We need each other.
Also, we still need prayer for my husband’s vision. Sometimes it changes from bad to worse, and that concerns us, too. Sometimes it seems like it gets better. I feel a little helpless, so I do the only thing I know how to do, and that is pray. We’re asking God for complete healing.
And even if He says, “No,” to this, we will still worship Him, but we’re asking now anyway. Please join us in prayer if you think of us.
Love to you,
I don’t know how I just stumbled across this blog! I will be praying for your husband! Thanks for the transparency!
thanks Nina all will be fine….i love you and have been following you fr some time now….will be open with saying am fine now…thanks for the reminder
I’m praying and believing for your husbands vision to be completely restored. Jesus modeled community to us in the trinity. So glad you are now able, through honestly, to be supported by your girlfriends in the body of Christ. We all are holding up your hands (as yours must be very weary) for a victorious battle. May God bless you and your family one-hundred fold for your gogly impact on us all and on our marriages.
Laurie – you are right. Trinity. Community. It’s lovely, isn’t it? And girl, I AM weary. 🙂 It’s been a looooonnnnnng 6 weeks. And year, with this hanging over us. BUT God. And JESUS. 🙂 So good. 🙂 And any good is Him in me, baby – left to my own devices, I assure you – I’m a complete mess. 🙂
Love to you!
Nina, Thank you for your transparency and speaking the truth! I have just purchased the Respect Dare and started reading your blog about a month ago because I am in the middle of a tremendous battle for my marriage right now. Daily I struggle to just make it through the day. I too am struggling with feeling overwhelmed, andI don’t know who to turn to…friends I thought would be there have let me down and I just don’t know what to do. I am exhausted emotionally and physically. My health is failing as a result. Yet, I am seeing God provide the strength I need to make it one day at a time and bring just the right people into my life to help me take another step. Even people like you who write blogs that speak to my heart and encourage me. So thank you for what you can do in the midst of life and for being real. It has been an encouragement to me and I am sure it is touching many lives. Blessings on you and your family.
Carrie. I’m so sorry you are going through this. I know the exhaustion of which you speak. God is good, and He’s already doing the next thing with you. Any good you see here, btw, is all Him. 🙂 Don’t give up, beautiful. You are beginning, the battle IS fierce, but GREATER is He Who is in you than he who is against you. Don’t forget your battle is not with flesh and blood – but with evil itself. SO so glad you are here. I hope our community provides you with the support and encouragement you need. 🙂
Love to you!
You just hit the nail on the head. I have never looked at I’m fine from this angle. I message have made me to repent. I pray for you and I am so thankful to God for having found this site. When I feel really down,I come to your blog and get the Holy Spirit poured on me and I feel refreshed. My life is a roller coaster with husband and adult son alcoholics and the lie of I’m fine just seemed the right answer.
:). Any good you see is all Him, baby! So glad you are here!
Praying for you, and praising Him for His Spirit ministering to you.
Love to you!
So true! constant battle to keep it real and battle satan’s lies about what is going on in my life. God so desires community for us to fight the battle together and I hide.
Praying for you.
Thank you so much, I have been struggling with that as well, with everything you described down to the guilt and not wanting to burden and letting people down, etc… just different stressors. Will pray for you and your family and thank you for being strong enough to address this subject and touch so many others. Because of you Satan has lost more battles and that makes me happy:) God Bless you!
Ugh! Praying for you, lovely. It IS hard! And the enemy is smart. So sorry you have been struggling, but His Light is in you – and stronger than he who is against you. 🙂
Love to you!
I so needed to see, hear, read this TODAY! I stopped saying fine and now just say I’m okay—still not the truth. I am struggling greatly in my marriage as is my husband and the enemy is having a good old time trying to destroy this family unit. My dearest friend reminds me, it is the enemy at work, but our God is stronger and faithful.
Boy do I hear you!! So sorry things are hard right now, but there will be good and rest eventually.
Don’t quit, lovely!
Glad you are here!
A sweet friend of mine says, “I’m here,” instead of “I’m fine.” It shows willingness to show up despite how you feel.
It’s a whole lot ….. and yet, you keep showing up! God bless you and your family. Your heart is in exactly the right spot 🙂
I do wish I was better at the battle biz. Someday. Learning.
Love to you!
Thank you for sharing. We all do this thing called “I’m fine” or “hanging in there” I did this for the first 6 months of last year because I didn’t want to share how scared and tired I was from taking care of my father. Then after he went home to Heaven, I’ve spent the last 7 saying the same thing because of deep grief. It will be ok just not right now! Thank you for your transparency and wisdom! Love to you and prayers always!
Kim. I am so sorry.
And you are right to grieve in this Now and in future Nows…if we love, we grieve.
Prayers for you, beautiful.
Facing alot this week. Not sure how to handle it all but I know this is where I am supposed to be. May God give us all strength to pull us through where He has placed us!
Indeed, gorgeous. Great prayer for us all!
Great post, Nina. Been struggling with some things myself. Not nearly the magnitude of what you are going through, but I’ve found shafting with others has helped me to not spiral downward into a pit. Trying to keep it real. Satan wants nothing more than for us to “keep it hidden”. He always works in darkness, we must continue to expose our sicknesses, hurts, and fears to the light. There we will find healing.
Wise words, indeed. And I don’t think anyone has more significant pain than anyone else. Hurtimg just hurts.
Love and prayers to you.
Nina, I have read your blogs for the past 4 years, completed The Respect Dare, made major changes, but still struggle with this very thing. First God has convinced me that I am valuable. Just as those I listen to and care about are valuable. I am not less valuable because of the stuff going on. Second and the biggest aid to overcoming ” I am fine” answer: a minister explained what “fine” meant. Freakishly Insecure Nuertically Emotional. Many of my friends heard this and we all laughed but have significantly reduced the use of that word and opted for more truthful meaningful conversations about our conditions in life. Hope this helps you. Thank you for the seeds you have sown into my life and journey to healthy relationships.
Any good you have seen has been God. 😉 I know you know what I mean. 😉 The Beth Moore book really helped me get a grip on some of this. I might be better prepared for next time.
And there is always a next time.
Love to you, baby!
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