Last week, two days after minor outpatient knee surgery, my husband limped into church with his knee bulging with bandages.
He drew quite a bit of attention, including questions like: “What’d you do?” and “Get in a fight?” and, my personal favorite, “She kick you?” (Yes, all 5’4″ of me kicked my 6’0″ husband hard enough to make him limp and send him to the hospital.)
They were concerned and like family, that sometimes comes out with humor. Even this week, people asked about his knee.
Funny, isn’t it, how easy it is to ask and answer when the wounds are physical.
The same day people were asking my husband about his knee, I was spiritually and emotionally limping into church, carefully preparing an answer to the “how are you?” question that was honest yet not overwhelming. Because frankly, I’m not fine. Or good. Or okay. But I say those things to protect myself from an all-out public cryfest.
Because if I answered honestly, I’d be a puddle of tears, and I might not stop crying. And you might hear me doubt God. And wonder if He’s there. And question whether He’s good. And lament our lot, for now. And for some reason I think those things aren’t appropriate for church.
Am I the only one who puts on an everything’s-fine face on Sunday mornings?
My husband’s recent surgery and church attendance make me wonder how many of us there are. How many of us are limping on the inside but walking tall on the outside? How many of us are feeling not quite right and need some rest but don’t feel like that’s a good excuse to miss church or Sunday School? How many of us are desperate for someone to really ask us about our internal wounds and at the same time scared that if they do they might regret it? (You can’t see me, but I’m raising my hands yelling, “Me! Me! Me!”)
And I still wonder what to do about it. Do I just let it all out? Do I admit that this is definitely NOT how I envisioned life after seminary? That even though I’ll be a pastor’s wife someday, I’m not all that happy with God right now?
I have people who know these things; people I run to when I just need to say, “Life sucks!” But I feel like a fraud when I appear to have it all under control on Sunday mornings. Because I am so. not. in. control.
I have not lost faith. I won’t lose faith. Because Jesus has changed my life in incredible, impossible ways. He means too much to me to give Him up.
I am wrestling, though. Wandering in a desert that seems to be without end. Clinging to the slimmest of margins. Trusting in what looks impossible by human standards.
And that’s not always pretty.
So, accept my apology for putting on a happy face when I feel anything but happy. Forgive my feeble attempts to convince you I’m fine when I’m not.
Teach me how to let you in so I don’t feel like a fake. Help me to show you my wounds without shame.
And let me do the same for you.