This weekend I went to a baby shower. It was great to see old friends and to catch up a bit. These days it’s soooo hard to slow down and just chit-chat with life-long friends. So if a baby shower is a good place to give a condensed update from the last few months in a 10 minute “catch-up” conversation – so be it!
Not only did I get a chance to talk to old friends, I had the delight of refreshing some acquaintances and getting to know some ladies a little better.
One particular woman touched me in such a way that I just had to share the lesson I learned from my few moments with her.
In typical girl-to-girl fashion, we asked each other how the other was doing. My answer? “Girrrrrrrrl… I’m trying to keep up.”
Her answer? “Not good. I’ve been struggling with depression.”
She said it so matter-of-fact that, for a moment, I wasn’t even sure that she was serious.
“I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety.”
And her eyes welled up with tears. She couldn’t stop them. It was as if her mouth’s confession had unlocked the dead-bolt on the door and cracked it just enough for her tears to seep through. And the tears just wouldn’t stop flowing.
I didn’t have an answer. I didn’t have a solution. I didn’t have a Word from the Lord. No deep passages of scripture came to mind to share. I just told her that it was going to be OK.
The truth of the matter is… I’ve been there.
I know what it’s like to be rendered completely incapable of controlling your emotions. I know what it is to use every ounce of energy and resolve simply to put on clothes and walk out of the house. I know what it’s like to feel the tears running down my face and be powerless to do anything about it.
And I know that sometimes there is no magic wand. There’s no way to instantaneously wave the pain away. I know that you just have to keep going even if progress on a daily basis is measured in millimeters.
And I’ve experienced the beauty of someone being there. Just there.
Not reaching out to me in genuine love only to unintentionally leave me feeling embarrassed from an unnatural hug.
Not sending me reeling down a path of belittlement because of comments meant to help but that only leave me wondering if my problems are not as big as I am making them out to be.
Not trying to logically solve my illogical, physiological, psychological, heartache.
Just. being. there.
Because it’s OK to cry.
It’s OK to let the tears fall and not have a solution to dry them and wipe them away.
It’s OK for my heart to bleed if there has been pain inflicted or a bruise from hitting a wall in some area of my life.
It’s OK for my soul or my body to be tired and need a washing, a renewal, a cleansing that only tears can bring.
And that’s what I told this sweet lady.
And she kept talking… and cried some more.
The beauty of my few moments with her is not that she was free to open up, or get help, or leave with a solution.
This moment was made beautiful because she was allowed to “be”. In the moment. In the pain. In the room with other people in ear shot.
She let the tears flow and was honest about where she was in her heart and shared that she wasn’t sure where she was going. And it was OK.
It’s OK if you and I have a bad day or a series of bad days. It’s OK if you are in a season of depression or experiencing ’bouts of anxiety or stress. It’s OK if we give each other the space to feel pain, to suffer fatigue, to have questions, or to walk through difficult emotional places. It’s OK to show our tenderness and admit that some spot in our minds or hearts are sore.
I’m so proud of this woman because she has chosen to get some solid support from other people and to seek appropriate help to keep her moving through this season in her life. While she doesn’t FEEL like it all the time, she is making a real and diligent effort to put her best foot forward by presenting herself well both in attitude and dress. She still came out to the baby shower – even though it wasn’t easy.
She came to the shower and still had a moment of flowing tears.
And that’s OK.
It was OK for her to cry.
It was OK for me not to have the answer.
It’s OK if life is not always a bed of roses.
So today, I want you to cry if you need to. Tell the truth if you need to. Listen if you need to. Get help if you need to.
And don’t be ashamed. We all have mountains and valleys so we don’t have to pretend that the valley’s don’t exist or that they don’t hurt or that they aren’t hard.
In finding the strength and the freedom to admit that we are hurting, we will free someone else to do the same.
And in finding the courage to look another in the eye, not have the answer and say, “It’s going to be OK…” we liberate the people in our lives to find their own way, in their own time.