It’s OK That It’s Not OK

crying eye

One of the terms my grandfather used for this world after my grandmother passed away was “This vale of tears”. Gramps was a pretty cheerful and easy-going guy but Grams passing knocked a lot of the wind out of his sails. He didn’t curl up and die exactly but he just wasn’t the same after her death.

I think there are few who can relate to the pain of losing a spouse after 61 years of marriage but each of us have life events that rock our worlds in foundational ways.

I remember during one of my own earth shaking events a well-meaning brother walked up to me in church and asked, “How are you doing J?”

“I am OK.” I answered ( I wasn’t really but then the moment wasn’t right for a sit-down-and-cry).

His response was to wrinkle his nose and say, “Just OK? Not fantastic?”

The brother knew what I was walking through at the moment and I was a little… no a lot flabbergasted by his insensitivity. But I didn’t haul off and clock him, Pastors aren’t supposed to do that.

Instead I simply said, “Sometimes, brother, OK is good enough.” Then I went to my office and had a sit-down-and-cry.

Can I just say that sometimes it’s Ok not to be “good” or “fantastic” or even “OK”. There are life events that are just so wrong or hurtful that it is OK to not be OK for a bit. Further it is OK to think and feel that your situation is definitely not OK. While God may work all things together for good not every situation is good, in fact some situations just suck.

We have had four deaths connected to our church in the last week-and-a-half, six in the last month. Today I prayed with two  men in church who wept through the entire service. What they are walking through is definitely not OK and I wouldn’t be OK if I were in their shoes.

Hope isn’t found in pretending that everything is coming up roses while your really sitting under a pile of manure. Hope is found when we realize that though we may be walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, God is with us through all of it.

Brother…Sister, It’s OK to admit that it’s not OK right now. In fact admitting that to yourself and others is the first step in moving to a better place. Being honest about where you are now is part of figuring out how to move beyond it. Here’s a song to help you in your meditation this evening.

A True Beginner


Recently I decided it was time to start getting rid of some of my baby fat (after all I have been carrying it around for some 45 years now),  and to start toning up this aging body of mine. My problem is always finding time. I’ve considered a gym but I just don’t have the time to drive there work out and then drive back home. I thought about bow-flex but frankly I just can’t see buying another clothes rack I mean exercise machine. Then I heard about this site on-line called the Daily Burn and thought I’d give it a try. I signed up and answered the site’s preliminary questions and from that they placed me in the “True beginner” category.

Now at first I was a little offended. I am not a true beginner. I’ve started hundreds of exercise programs (or maybe 10) ; But hey! that ought to at least put me in the moderately knowledgable category, shouldn’t it?

Here’s the thing I am learning. It’s not about the past or where I have been. It is about right now and what I can handle in the present. The fact that twenty seven years ago I found a great program and lost 30 pounds does not mean that as a forty -seven year old who has gained back 80 of those 30 pounds I can pick right back up where I left off. I have much lost ground to recover before I can even dream of  doing the things I was able to do back then.

As I started the first “True Beginner” exercise session I learned I was in the right spot after all.  I think I was in the middle of my third set of squats when I began having this sensation that my quadriceps were going to pop right out through my skin and run screaming through the streets that there was someone trying to murder them.  Knowing what a squat was or that it was working my quads did little to change the fact that it hurt like the dickens.

The spiritual application should be apparent. We can have all the book learning about God there is to be had but in the end all the head knowledge in the world cannot make us mature Christians. It’s not knowledge about how to walk the walk that makes us strong; It’s walking the walk and putting the biblical principles into practice that strengthens us.

Just like starting a new exercise program pains the body, so applying biblical principles for the first time will cause our spirits to be stretched. It has little to do with how long we have been Christians or how long we have known the truth. It has everything to do with being new to the exercise.

Sometimes we think that if we just hang around the church long enough our problems will just solve themselves. Sometimes we think that if we just believe long enough temptation will stop being tempting.

“That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works!” as the popular ad here in the States says.

As I approach this new exercise program I have to accept that I am a true beginner. I have to work through the aches and pains until my body gets used to the principles of use. Every time I practice a new spiritual discipline or confront a new spiritual stronghold I have to accept that once again I am in “True beginner” territory. I have to expect some discomfort to come with change. I have to give my spiritual muscles time to get use to the new principles the Holy Spirit is working inside me. But with both spiritual and physical exercise, I can rejoice that in the discomfort progress is being made.

So let me ask how do you work through the uncomfortable places of spiritual growth?