It's Okay To Not Be Okay
A Kindred Story by Ashlee Hafner
As young girl, I was often told that I was “okay.” When I would fall, my mom would pick me up, dust me off, and tell me I was okay. I was a big girl. Big girls don’t cry or whine. I was okay.
As an adult, I have adopted this mindset, as many of you may have also. Something happens, but we’re okay. We “fall down,” but we’re okay. We may scrape our knee but we quickly pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and tell ourselves we are okay.
More recently, however, I have been challenged to change this perspective. As a mentor, my desire is for people to understand that their pain is real. I want them to know that their feelings are valid. What they may be walking through or what they have already walked through may be the hardest thing they may ever face.
If I were to sit across from a girl that has experienced sexual assault and tell her that she is okay, I would be doing her a disservice. If I told her she needs to dust herself off and be a big girl, I would be devaluing her story. If I told her she should hide her pain and fake a smile, I would be setting her back. Her pain is not okay. She is not okay.
And THAT is okay.
As Christians, I pray that we stop trying to preserve our image and realize that it’s okay not to be okay. I pray that we understand that pain is a real part of this life and that trying to hide it will only hinder our healing. I believe there is healing in honesty. There is healing in looking at ourselves in the mirror and saying, “I’m not okay.” It is okay not to be okay.
I want to speak to those who are around people who are not okay. I know you want to tell them that they will be okay, but please don’t. I know you want to tell them you understand, but you don’t. Yes, we all know that valleys don’t last forever and we may have walked through similar valleys, but when we know someone is walking through something painful, trying to get them out faster isn’t the way to make them “okay.” Pain is a process we must walk through to gain the scar that healing brings. Instead of forcing them out of their valley, walk with them. Instead of trying to relate, hold their hand. Jesus knew how to walk with someone. Jesus knew how to hold someone’s hand. Something I pray we learn is Jesus’ ability to understand and share the feelings of another. If we truly adopt this characteristic of our Savior, I believe we would better serve those around us.