You don't have to smile
We live in an "I am fine" society. We live in a "put on a mask and act like everything is ok" society. We live in "fake strength and confidence" society.
And so instead of confessing that we are hurting and that we are in pain and that we feel the entire world is crashing around us and we don't know how we are going to make it, we smile and simply say "I am fine."
When in actuality we aren't fine. Our heart is breaking. We have questions we are afraid to ask God. Our life has been turned upside down and we just want it the way it used to be. My family is dealing with the pain of cancer. But I know that some are growing weary waiting for the promises that have been declared over their life. Some spend night after night crying wondering why others can conceive and they can't. Some wonder if their marriage can be repaired. Some look at a wayward child and hurt because of the choices they are making. Some no matter how hard they are working never make enough to pay their bills.
But we smile. We say "we're fine." We put on that mask because we're afraid that if we take it off well-meaning but hurtful people will tell us we just need to trust God more or even worse that we are not trusting God enough. And so we keep our pain hidden and our hurt inside.
But I'm saying you don't have to smile. You can cry. You can scream. You can fall apart. It doesn't signify that you don't trust God. You are hurting. You are in pain. And that is okay to acknowledge. It's okay to say that your heart is breaking. It's okay to vocalize the agony you are experiencing. It's okay to say you don't understand. It's okay to cry. It's okay to let those tears cascade down your face. And you don't have to wait until you are alone to do it. You don't have to bury your head in your pillow so no one else can see. It's okay to take off that mask that you put up for the world to see. It's okay. And it doesn't mean you don't trust in God. It doesn't mean you aren't waiting on Him. It doesn't mean that you are walking away from your relationship with God.
It means you're real. Stop burying those feeling. Stop denying that you're hurt. Stop pretending you are okay.
And we need to be compassionate when others are hurting. We need to let them cry on our shoulders. We need to hold them and sometimes not say a word. We need to listen and let those who are hurting break down. We need to let them be real and take off the mask. We need to let people be real with us and offer them love because that is what God is doing.
God whispers "you can be real with me. You can cry. It's okay to acknowledge you're hurting. It's okay to tell me this situation has broken your heart. It's okay to cry out that you don't understand." God wraps His arms around us. And with tears streaming down our face, God replaces confusion with peace. He restores joy that has been robbed by sadness. He fills us with strength when we've grown weary. He surrounds us with love when we feel lonely. And He reminds us "it's okay to be real."
Because strength really is signified by taking one more step when you are tired and weary and broken. Some of the strongest people are those whose world is falling apart but they take one more step. They take one more step when they don't understand why they are going through what they are. They take one more step when every door has closed. They take one more step when the storm is pounding. They take one more step when every dream they had had been ripped away. They take one more step through tear stained eyes.
So take one more step and cry. God knows that your tears are not a lack of dedication to Him. He knows that even in your pain you're trusting in Him. He knows that in you're brokenness you haven't detoured from His path.