Being Okay With Not Okay

I spoke with a good friend recently who's struggling with Hard right now. And she mentioned something that I'd been thinking about, but hadn't put into words, so I knew exactly what she meant.

Sometimes? It's going to hurt for a good long while.

Sometimes? What's meant as encouragement doesn't help.

Sometimes? All we can do is just breathe.

Sometimes? It's okay not to be okay.

Because we're not.

When the Hard Thing comes, when the pain is overwhelming, when we barely can function, when all we can do is put one foot in front of the other and move forward, when the joy isn't coming, when the smiles seem far, it's okay not to be okay.

Now granted, we shouldn't wallow in Not Okay forever. At some point in the near-ish future, life should hopefully be coming back in our lungs and we'll be able to breathe without thinking about it. And if, months or years down the line, you're still treading water instead of swimming, then yes, friends have the duty to hold you accountable and seek to help. They should do whatever they can to shake you up and get life started again.

But until then? Your friends are just going to have to wait. They are going to have to learn to be okay with the fact that you're not okay. 

Because grief is personal. It's a process that every single person on the planet handles completely different. There's no hard and fast rules we can follow when it comes to handling Hard. It's. Just. Hard. We need to give each other grace. And mercy. And TIME. There will eventually be a point where talking about the Hard won't automatically bring the tears. There will eventually be a point where thinking about the Hard won't send a sharp pain through your insides. There will eventually be a point when the Hard will hurt less, smiles will come easier, and joy and life will begin anew.

Jason Gray's song 'Not Right Now' speaks poignantly about this very thing. {click here to listen if you care to} While researching the story behind that song, I stumbled across this article which had a paragraph that struck me:
It’s an important song for me as a Christ follower because it’s a reminder that Jesus is well acquainted with grieving and understands everything I’ve struggled with.  More importantly, he wants me to take time to grieve, and there is open permission to not be okay. Jesus doesn’t spout off platitudes in an effort to put a band-aid on a person’s pain. Jesus WEPT.
Jesus is well acquainted with grieving.

Let that sink in for a bit. He knows. He understands. He's felt the same.

We know this. As faithful believers, we have (hopefully) read Redemption's Story and we know the passages about Jesus on the cross. We know He died for us. We know He was left alone by the Father. We know He felt pain. We know His heart hurt. WE KNOW.

But do we really?

Do I really?

To be truthful, I forget. I get involved in life, and when the Hard comes, I forget that He knows. But oh my friend, He does! He truly does. That moment when He chose to keep going, even knowing the grief and pain to come, and He chose it again and again and again, oh how my heart sings when I remember that. The amazing thing is He keeps choosing it! If you think about it, Jesus had umpteen different moments when He could have chosen a different path. But He didn't. Because He knew we needed a Savior. And particularly we needed a Savior Who would understand. Who would experience all we do, plus more and beyond, so that we could find comfort there. And rest.

So in those moments when you're Not Okay.....it's okay. Cling to Jesus. Rest in His Presence. And trust that He has big enough shoulders to handle our questions, our doubts, our fears, our raging, our pain. Give it all to Him! He can handle it. In fact, I believe that He wants it. He wants us to trust Him with it. He wants us to trust Him with ourselves. He wants communication and communion with me. And with you.


Intimacy means there's no part of your life that He doesn't know and isn't a part of. So that anger you're feeling? That doubt? That fear? That frustration? That I-don't-know-what-to-do? That grief? That loss? He wants to know it. In fact....He already does. He just wants to hear it directly from us. Because when we can share it with Him, then we begin to heal. Just a smidge.

So don't put a time limit on your Not Okay. Just accept it for the moment. Be okay with Not Okay! And someday? You'll look up and realize that Okay is here again.

And it will be glorious.


  1. Oh Kara. I am that friend and I am grateful for your words. Your words that say:
    I know, friend. I, too, know Pain. I know Hard.
    And I hear you being ok with the fact that I am not ok right now.
    And I hear
    your compassion,
    your empathy,
    your certainty that Jesus loves and
    the assurance that you will hold on through my tunnel of Dark and be there waiting when I reach the distant flckering Light.

    Thank you, friend.

    1. Sara: Yes. I'm glad my words could comfort, so often I wonder! My heart is always open for you, dearest friend. Never doubt it.

  2. Once again your words are right. on.
    This is truth- and I have been there- when the Hard feels too Hard to overcome.
    But Jesus has overcome, and the grave is overwhelmed.
    Only praise for knowing this to be true, and honest gratitude to a God who gives us friends who are ok when it's not ok.

    1. Deborah: Jesus has overcome! Amen and amen.

  3. Hang on... you know Jason Gray's music? That's so full of shiny awesome! I've actually seen him perform live quite a few times, back when I was in college and he was singing with The Divers, and then starting to branch out on his own. I still really dig his voice, but I haven't heard any of his more recent songs, so thanks for the link.

    And yes, no one is okay all the time, and pretending we're okay when we're not is not going to help in the long run. Hard to accept sometimes, but there it is.

    I've had plenty of times in my life where I've just put my head down and survived for a while. Sometimes that's all you can do.

    1. Hamlette: I do! And what's full of shiny awesome is the fact that you've seen him in concert! I like his voice as well and the words he shares are so true for my heart. I love that.

      Yes! Entirely true. Sometimes that's all you can do and it's okay. I'm learning this even more on this side of mom's experience! Most days I do a lot more than survive, but some days? That's about all I can say. I'm getting through though! God is ever faithful. :)