“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” – Psalm 27:13
“How are you?”
If you had a dollar for every exchange that followed the above guidelines, you’d probably have enough dollars to settle the national debt by now. It’s the standard operating procedure for greeting someone nowadays… people we love, people we know, people whose faces we vaguely recall, people who happen to walk past us in the grocery store. It’s the most basic acknowledgement of a person’s existence and general caring about said existence.
And we all know it’s a bunch of nonsense.
We say it whether we’re actually fine or not. It’s generally considered good manners. It might be acceptable if you voice a better than fine state of being (just don’t get into bragging, of course)… but less than fine is strictly in the “icky social” zone. Sure, if you know a person well enough they may ask what’s wrong, but more often than not you earn an uncomfortable “I’m sorry” and a quick, discreet plotting of an escape route.
“Fine” is just safer.
I remember a time in my life when I decided I was going to be more honest in those little encounters. Because, you see, I was not fine. I was nowhere in the same galaxy as “fine”.
I was working full time with an infant son and a marriage that was in such shambles that I’m still a little shocked we were able to claim it on our taxes. Financially, we were in more trouble than even my paranoid little worrybrain had ever been able to conjure up. Emotionally, I was consumed with postpartum anxiety and the frantic desperation of trying to save a marriage that didn’t seem to want to be saved. Spiritually, I was as close to absolutely hopeless despair as I’d ever been in my life.
But you can’t say that in a casual social setting. Can you imagine it, really?
“How are you?”
“Pretty awful actually. Probably filing for bankruptcy and divorce soon, and
I’m afraid my son will die every time I take my eyes off him!”
“Oh… … … Well… gotta go….”
Yeah, that’s about how that would go.
So I came up with a little cute phrase that I felt was more honest but would still fit the criteria of “appropriate non-icky socialness”.
People would ask, and I would say, “Oh, I’m making it!”
We would laugh. General vague camaraderie of how difficult life was would ensue. They would walk away feeling non-icky, and I would walk away feeling like I was at least a little honest.
In truth, I was nowhere near honest. I was deflecting. I was taking the immense pain and despair I was drowning in and shoving it behind a thin facade of a cute saying. Then again, that’s what I was good at. I could hide my pain like Waldo in those dadgum books. You could find it, but only if you were really looking.
“Making it” was a means of throwing off the people who might be looking.
And so started my pattern. As my life began to crash around me, I kept my wearied smile and cute saying on hand.
We filed for bankruptcy last week. “I’m making it.”
I left my husband yesterday. “I’m making it.”
The Kiddo and I moved in with my parents today. “I’m making it.”
I filed for divorce a few days ago. “I’m making it.”
I was up every two hours last night with the Kiddo’s night terrors…
for the second week in a row.
“I’m making it.”
In a way, there was an honesty about that statement. Because I was truly “just making it”. I was surviving. There was no true life in my day-to-day. I took one step after the other. Sleep. Work. Eat. Love on the Kiddo. Rinse and repeat.
But I was still a wreck inside and out.
Then… it began to change.
I don’t remember exactly when it happened, to be honest, but I can tell you how.
Woven into my life… for decades… since before I was even born… were provisions that God had set in place for this dark time in my life. Family that supported me. Friends who uplifted me. A church family that loved me. A job that reminded me what real laughter felt like.
And slowly… over days and months and years… I began to live again.
Gone are the days of “just making it”… and not because there haven’t been reasons that could push me back to that place. There have been plenty, and I’ve felt the pull… the desire to slip back into survival mode. But I won’t. I can’t.
Because God has shown me there’s a better way.
Everything I was once proud of was stripped away, leaving me standing before God with nothing… and there I found that His love hadn’t changed a bit.
Because I can’t earn it.
That’s hard for a person like me. I’m that overachiever that draws the rolled eyes in class projects and staff meetings. I’m the kid that cried in second grade because she got a 98 on a test and “wanted to be perfect.” I’m the good kid. The dependable one.
And yet despite all that, my life fell to pieces.
Just like Job, I had to discover that God’s love for me had nothing to do with what I had done… but rather with who God is.
Someone reading this right now is saying “If God is loving… then explain why your life fell apart?”
Okay, I’m going to be honest, that’s a blog for another day, because that’s a tangent that will take an entire blog in itself. I’ll summarize it for you, however: God’s love is not proven in my circumstances, but in His faithfulness through my circumstances.
Yes, my life fell apart.
But He never left me.
I was provided for in every way. I had a home. I had a safehaven to recover in. I was able to get back on my feet emotionally, spiritually, and financially because of it. Was my pride hurt by the fact that it was my parents’ house and I was 30 years old? Sure. But pride doesn’t determine the value of the provision.
And now here I am… several years and many lessons removed from “just making it.”
This blog is my journey in the process of learning to thrive in Christ, regardless of my circumstances.
It will be honest.
It will be occasionally snarky.
It will be serious at times.
It will be completely silly at others.
I may even combine all of the above.
But this is my journey. And I welcome anyone who wants to tag along.
“How are you? Still making it?”