Tuesday, February 17, 2015

are you okay?


the band was already in the middle of a song when i sidled into my seat at church. my friend was there in her spot right next to mine, her jacket laid across the chair reserving my seat just like last week. we smiled and hugged and began worshiping the Lord side by side.

i sang and i prayed. but something felt off. there was a tugging in my heart telling me something wasn't right, and i just couldn't shake it. it was the same feeling i felt years earlier when the pastor gave an alter call and my heart about jumped out of my chest to tell the stranger sitting next to me that i would walk the aisle toward the front with her- that i would pray with her to invite Jesus into her heart. this time, my heart was beating so hard and my spirit was stirring like crazy. i couldn't fight the compelling anymore so i leaded over to my friend and whispered in her ear, "are you okay?"

she shook her head no. 

there it was. and it wasn't the time or the place to have a conversation but suddenly there was a connection between us that was deeper than i can explain. all i could do in that moment in my seat in the middle of church was close my eyes and pray a breath prayer for my friend.

later we talked, my friend was honest and vulnerable and real. all i had to be was there for her. she shared with me some things i might not have ever known if i hadn't asked her if she was okay that morning. i listened to her, i prayed with her, and i was there to see her through to the other side.

that stirring in my spirit telling me something wasn't right, was right. and after it was all unpacked and put back together, we both experienced freedom and peace that only comes from God.

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is always what it takes to sit down and listen." // Winston Churchill

and once upon a time, there was a day when i was really in the thick of it. work was hectic. deadlines were nearing. homelife was chaotic. relationships were consuming. everything was fast and demanding and hurry and urgent. i remember driving, praying for a red light just so i could just stop, just for a minute or two. of course every light was green.

and then, on this crazy busy day, when everyone needed something from me, i got a text message that i almost ignored. i looked and saw that it was from a friend i hadn't seen or talked to in a few days. i clicked to read her message -completely out of the blue- and all it said was, "are you okay?"

i shook my head no. 

i considered replying to her text with the usual ALL GOOD HERE! HOW ARE YOU? :)) in all caps because that means i am FOR REAL ALL GOOD. i could have easily lied to my friend. she would have never known and would have never been burdened by my junk and then she would think i was Miss Cool Calm and Collected and we would have gone on about our wonderful good lives.

but i wasn't all good. in fact, i was crying. and even though i didn't know it, i needed her to ask if i was okay. i needed to be honest and real and vulnerable.

so i let it all out. i told her how overwhelmed i was and how rough my day had been and i shared the details of my messy life that i normally would keep to myself. all she had to be was there for me. she listened, she prayed, she hugged, and she saw me through to the other side. the next day, we laughed together, experiencing freedom and peace that only comes from God.

that prompting, the compelling, heart-pounding, can't-shake-it feeling to ask her if she's okay? that's God at work. God can use you to be Jesus to your friend. pay attention to that prompting. ask her if she's okay.

"Those who sit in darkness get to see the light, not those who think they are in the light already." // Coram Deo, BibleGateway

i was reading my bible recently and came across the story of Job and his three friends. when his three friends heard about all the troubles that had come upon Job, they left their homes and met together to go and "sympathize with him and comfort him." (Job 2:11) Job's friends didn't ask if he was okay- they already knew he wasn't okay. the bible says they "sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights" and no one said a word because "they saw how great his suffering was." (Job 2:13) for the next 40 chapters, Job's friends listened, argued, and even persecuted him. but in the end, they witnessed God's goodness through Job's suffering. they were there to see Job through to the other side.

"In trouble like this I need loyal friends— whether I've forsaken God or not." // Job 6:14
ask "are you okay?" don't hesitate when God presses someone heavy on your heart. asking is brave, obedient, and kind. it's recognizing a shadow and being willing to be the Light for our friend. it's reaching out a hand and letting her know she's not alone.

answer honestly when a friend asks if you're okay. lay down pride, shame, and fear, and surrender to love, grace, and healing. answer. be vulnerable, authentic, and brave. recognize your heart's condition and your need for a Savior. grasp that outreached hand and know you're not alone.

"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." // Proverbs 25:11