Limping into church

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!”)

This isn’t the first time I’ve wondered this.

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.


2 thoughts on “Limping into church

  1. your post reminds me of one of my favorite sermons from many years back – the priest asked the congregation why do so many of us respond to the question of how are you with ‘good’ or ‘fine’ when so often we are not. He encouraged us to answer more honestly and trust that God and those who are asking would help us with our burdens. I still struggle with it often, its just so built into me to answer ‘fine’ when asked. I have learned that I don’t have to give all of the gory details of why I’m not ‘fine’ but in just saying “i’m having a rough day” I feel better and can breath a bit easier.

    Hang in there and know that you are not alone. You will find your way through this period of questions and be all the more stronger for it. 🙂

  2. This is a tough question…. of what to say when you are not feeling fine and yet you feel like you should say something that wouldn’t be discouraging to other people,….for example, if you are tired or worried, or have a lot of things on your mind, it’s hard to say you’re “fine” when you are really not.
    So I understand how you feel when you say that you don’t know what to say when people ask you that…
    Especially if it’s Sunday morning, and you are going to church, and there are time constraints as well as people that you don’t know very well… You don’t want to give them a long-winded answer of what is going on in your life that you are worried about… so I just want to say that you are not alone in having this problem.. because I think a lot of people have this problem.. .. sometimes you just don’t know what to say when you are overwhelmed with things that are going on in your life, it’s just too much to explain to other people…so i guess that you can’t say anything but “fine” if you are too tired or too busy to explain it to people.. the people you know well will really want to know though, so then you can talk to them about it.. and tell them what is going on… People who know you well like your friends and family, will want to know how things are though and then you can tell them the truth…
    About phil getting a job< that is a tough question< but only GOD KNOWS THE ANSWER..
    I'm pretty sure Phil will get a job…. and you don't need to worry about it… just hang in there until he does….It's natural to worry about it of course, because it may take awhile… we humans worry, but I'm sure things will turn out good in the end…. take care…

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