The other day I ran into a friend and her mom in my new hood. That doesn’t happen, by the way, when you are new to a city. My friend’s mom asked how I was doing and I, in a moment of candid honesty, more or less explained to her that I’m adjusting to being newly married, in a new city, jobless, homeless, and on this awkward friendship prowl. Did I mention this has all happened in the last 60 days?
She told me she would ask her friends on my behalf to see if anyone hiring. Unfortunately for both of us, she has that setting on her phone that enlarges her letters so that they can be read a mile away. Much to my dismay, I read her text: “Help! Newly married girl: bored, sad, and lonely, needs a job. Know anyone?”
I’m sorry, did I read that correctly? Bored, sad, and lonely? She caught me reading over her shoulder, adjusted the screen so I could sort of see as she typed, and said aloud, “lovely, Christian woman– would be a great asset anywhere”. Too late. This lovely, Christian woman google-mapped herself (new territory problems) to the nearest coffee shop. I, at the very least, wanted to enjoy a scone and some caffeine with my ensuing existential crisis.
Bored, sad, and lonely? Am I coming off that way? I’m supposed to be the happiest I’ve ever been. I got to marry my favorite guy and start off on a new adventure in a new city! I am so not bored, or sad, or lonely. I’m just trying to adjust to my new normal and happily be content to wake up and “follow Jesus like the disciples” over here. What is wrong with me? Why is nobody else going through this? And why is her life so much better, cuter, happier, skinnier, fil in the blank-er, than mine?!
Pause. Anyone else’s meltdowns have something to do with comparing your situation to the instaperfect lives you see online?
And no sooner am I choking back tears in a shop full or strangers that two women I happen to know from a college summer project walk in. As to be expected, we did the standard Christian girl greeting, complete with high-pitched hellos and hugs. But this time when I was asked how I was doing I pitched things much differently… with a smile and a grand finale, “Yeah, we are figuring things out and learning a ton right now, about ourselves and each other, but God is so good.”
Yes, God is good, and yes we are learning. I just casually failed to mention the parts about me being bratty, negative, and passive aggressive toward husBen earlier, or being recently diagnosed with bored, sad, and lonely syndrome. Funny how we do that– just conveniently leave out the unflattering but oh-so-real stuff. I wish I would have said, “Actually, I’m in the middle of a mild emotional meltdown and I need y’all to pray over me and speak some truth to a sister STAT!”
But I didn’t. I pretended instead. And after they left the shop, I went right back to choking back tears.
Here’s the deal: I’m tired of trying to convince everyone else, including myself, that everything is wonderful and glamorous all the time. It’s not. And that’s okay. It never has been those things, either. And quite frankly, I don’t think God ever intended it to be that way. I’m pretty sure I drank one too many glasses of the social media comparison koolaid and it got to my head. That’s a different story. This story is about the gospel and about his power being made perfect in our weakness.
The Samaritan woman in John 4 is so challenging to me right now. In the story Jesus meets this serial cheater lady and essentially calls her out on her scandalous lifestyle. He basically tells her that he is hope, not her achieving some sort of lifestyle; he is satisfying, not attaining and maintaining the affections of man. He is what she’s looking for. I need to hear this. The best part is the woman’s response:
“So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him. Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:28-30, 39, 41-42)
The woman let people into her mess that they might see the power of Jesus. She probably definitely had a lousy reputation and naturally had every reason to want to keep her mess to herself. But she didn’t; and lives were changed because she didn’t. She was braver than me. See, though a Christian—which foundationally implies that I am 50 shades of messed up—I still find myself wanting to pretend that I have it together, especially with other Christians. But the truth is that we actually aren’t okay, and that’s exactly why we need Jesus. Life actually isn’t staged, and trendy, and filtered; and that doesn’t mean it lacks beauty or quality. I know and love Jesus, and I’m still a transitioning mess right now. There’s no one alive I would have rather married than my man, but being married has its challenges. What I’m saying is that I want to be okay going public with an unstaged, unfiltered picture of where I am—because Jesus meets us where we are and “Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness” 2 Cor. 12:9.
So here’s step one in my efforts to start being okay with not being okay. I want to be audaciously candid. I want to find the intrinsic beauty and quality of life, without the props and filters. The stage is set to see God’s power made perfect through my mess, and may many see him through it. Here’s to the gospel that insists that we are far from okay. Here’s to Christ’s power being made perfect in our weakness. And here’s to laughin’ at ourselves, our messes, and the days ahead.