How to Say “I’m Not OK”

One of the Greatest Lies

Have you ever been talking with a friend and felt a huge relief when sharing something that has been weighing on your mind? Have you ever gotten something off your chest and just let out a big sigh afterward? Sometimes when we hold on to stress, anxiety, anger, or fear, speaking it out loud becomes a moment of letting go and letting God in.

As humans, we inevitably experience stress, anxiety, pressure, fear, and anger. When we are carrying these burdens the greatest lie we can buy into is this: no one wants to hear about your problems. When we feel overwhelmed we can easily think that sharing our burdens means that we become a burden. The opposite couldn’t be more true. Jesus calls us to carry our crosses in telling us, pick up your cross, and follow me, but carrying our cross isn’t a one-person gig. It isn’t something we have to do by ourselves. Jesus showed us the grace in having help in our suffering even as Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus carry his cross even to his death. Sharing our burdens with those we trust helps lighten the load of our crosses and means we are letting God work through those around us.

I’m F.I.N.E.

There is a great acronym for the word fine that goes like this: when someone asks you hey! how are you? And you respond with I’m fine, it really means that you are

Freaked out.
Not Okay.
Exhausted (or Emotional)

The truth is we are not always going to be okay, a lot of the time we are f.i.n.e. and it is a result of living in a broken world. Living our faith doesn’t mean that suddenly life is easy or a stroll through the park. Living our faith means offering our struggles to Christ, placing them in the heart of Jesus, and asking for real help. With the fall of Adam and Eve we experience suffering, separation from God, fears, the list goes on and on, but in the face of all that we also have choices to let God in and are given grace and real tools in how to respond to these sufferings.

The Big 3

The greatest surprise in carrying our crosses is that God has already given us people in our lives to help us on the journey. Knowing who to talk to can help us prepare for when life throws us curveballs. They are your backup, your support, your people to just be real with. It’s always helpful to have your Big 3:

A trusted friend – Having at least one or two close friends we trust allows us to check-in and share with people our own age. We might not want to be super vulnerable with all our friends and that is okay. Having one or two friends to honestly check in with can make a huge difference in our lives. Often enough, our friends share in our struggles too and we can be there for them and help them with their crosses in the process.

A trusted adult – Finding a caring and trusting adult to talk with can be an unbelievable gift. It might be a school counselor, youth minister, parish priest, teacher, coach, or therapist. Maybe the adult is your mom, dad, aunt, uncle, or grandparent. Whoever that adult is, when we take the time to ask for help we are entrusting our burdens to those who might have helpful ideas or are just there to listen. There are so many adults who have experienced the same struggles you have and who are wanting to listen and be there for you in the struggles. Find an adult who is willing to listen and who can help you take real steps towards healing and living a better life.

Jesus – Last, but not least, talking to Jesus is the source of giving Christ permission to love us and work in our lives. Believe it or not, Jesus cares about your thoughts, feelings, struggles, and joys. Christ does not inflict crosses on us but gladly carried and died upon one out of love for you. Talking to Jesus doesn’t have to require much. We can talk to him lying in bed, driving in the car, or in the midst of homework or Netflix. Jesus actually wants to hear about what’s going on with you. Give Jesus permission to come in and begin to talk with Him. Make time for prayer and don’t be afraid to talk to Him as you would a friend. The creator of the universe longs just to listen and be with you.

How to Start

Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. Maybe we can pinpoint our Big 3 but then what? When trying to share our burdens we can lean into the awkward and also trust that the Holy Spirit will guide our words. They don’t have to be perfect. We can pray, “Come Holy Spirit” and begin to entrust those around us with our struggles. When sharing our burdens with others it is best to ask someone for some time to talk. Trying to bring it up at an event or at the end of a conversation can be tough, so asking them for a specific time to talk can help give us time and space to share what is weighing on your heart.

Imagine That

The other half of getting started is imagining what to say. It can help to write it out or go over it in your head one or two times. Sometimes it helps to begin with something like, “Hey, I’ve been really struggling with … or I am feeling [sad, mad, glad, or afraid] because… or I’ve been hoping I could talk with you because I have been dealing with…”

When it comes to sharing what is going on with us we don’t have to have the perfect words, we only have to begin to say them. We can pray and know that the Holy Spirit will guide us, even in sharing. We can be patient with ourselves because sharing is not an easy thing to do! Slowing down our thoughts and words helps to be patient with ourselves and let others in.

Sharing our burdens and picking up our crosses is not easy, but talking with others about what we are experiencing lightens the load. Christ works through others to bring you peace and healing that you were made for. Don’t be afraid to make a plan, find your Big 3, and rely on your support when things get tough. Jesus will give you the grace to take real steps in letting others help you. Your thoughts, feelings, words are valid and have meaning. Letting others know that you’re not fine or okay is the beginning allowing God to love us and work in our lives.