I’m Not Fine
Recently I sat with a youth worker who told me about a life experience that left him in a puddle of tears. The day before, this gentleman seemed to be a pillar of confidence, yet now he shared pain and fear that left him gasping for air. Another friend sat at the table, lacking words of consolation. So instead he changed the subject.
Hard times. Life has become a box of crayons left in the sun. The once vibrant colors have melted together into a puke brown stain. The world is moving at a dizzying pace, screaming at the top of its lungs, and you can’t slow it down.
As leaders in ministry, we think we are supposed to have it all together. Others treat us like we’re rock-solid, as if we have everything in order. What happens on ose days we don’t have it all figured out? When we’re not fine? Our faith wavers, questions arise, and we feel … well … hopeless.
This past week I heard of three separate pastors from around the country who took their own lives. They lost sight of Jesus, and no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t return their gaze to him. Another friend in ministry recently told me that the doctor suggested he go on anti-depressants. When he admitted it to a group of friends, he was shocked to learn that three-fourths were either currently taking medication or had at some point in the past.
For the last six months, I personally have been in one of those excruciating times when the light at the end of the tunnel always seems out of reach. I have cried, raged, prayed alone, prayed with friends, clung to Jesus, read my Bible, recited Scripture from memory, sought counsel, sought counseling, worshiped, praised, and attended church. I have relied on the Lord when I wanted to lean on myself and take control. And I have to admit that things are not getting better circumstantially. I am learning a lot about walking faithfully with obedience at the side of my Savior.
In these moments we say a lot of well-meaning but unhelpful things to each other:
“If you would just give up control, God could work this out.”
“If you really wanted God’s help, he would give it to you.”
“You’ll be fine.”
These statements have a problem—they put the onus on me to do more, be more, and try harder. Sometimes sin plays into the situation, and I may have caused a chain of events. But not always. Often, you really are trying, but you still can’t find relief.
I said these things to others on many occasions, especially to the students and families I serve. I tried to create a formula to take the sting away. But sometimes we simply need to mourn with those who mourn, to sit with those who hurt. We shouldn’t let them wallow, but we need to remind them that Jesus is powerful enough to:
…remember us in the storm (Mark 4:35–38).
…calm the storm (Mark 4:39–41).
…walk on water through the storm to get to us (John 6:15–19).
…take us to the other side of the storm (John 6:20–21).
In short, when we belong to Christ, he does everything to take care of us. It isn’t always about feeling better; it’s about keeping sight of the one to whom we belong.
You’ll invariably encounter people in turmoil. It’s part of ministry. Instead of those unhelpful responses above, try saying this: “You don’t have to be fine. I have no idea if tomorrow will have a better set of circumstances. But I will sit here with you, and I trust that Jesus loves us so much that he will never leave you or me alone.”
It wouldn’t hurt to say it to yourself every now and then, too.
About the Author
Leneita Fix co-founded Frontline Urban Resources with Jeffrey Wallace to equip, coach, and speak into the lives of those working with families living in a “survival mode” mentality. They refer to this thinking as the “new urban.” Combined, they carry almost four decades of experience in the family ministry setting, most of it in traditional urban ministry. However each… Read More