“I’m pretty terrible. How are you?”
That’s been my response every time someone asks me how I’m doing for the past month. God bless people, you guys. They always ask you how you are when you’re pregnant. (Especially if they’ve been pregnant before.)
I know most people are under the impression you’re supposed to answer the whole “How are you?” thing with a “Good. You?” but I’m here to tell you we’re totally not.
Why does Ms. Christian say things are “good” even though her cat died, she hates her job, she’s experiencing killer period cramps and she’s been so depressed she hasn’t had the energy to shave her legs in 2 weeks?
She does it because she thinks she’s supposed to. It’s what nice Christian girls say, isn’t it?
I sometimes feel like I have to pretend like everything is fine because when I look out at all of you, you seem SO fine. You’re smiling and praising God through your heartbreak (which, by the way, is roughly 1,000 times harder than the itty, bitty drama that’s currently turning my life inside out). How are you so ok? Are you lying? Are you stronger than me? What exactly is going on here?
I spend about 50% of my time with my spiritual director asking her how come I suck so badly and all of you are kicking ass. How come small things (like a kid with a virus) turn my week absolutely upside down while I see you over there posting sweet pictures thanking God for the “extra cuddle time”? What is wrong with me that I am having such a hard time while everyone else makes lemonade out of lemons with smiles plastered on their faces and pretty pink rosaries in their hands?
You know what the answer is? I have no flipping idea.
I bet some of those people are just really, really optimistic. Maybe they’re holier than I am (yes) or they do a better job of keeping perspective on what is and isn’t an actual tragedy. Maybe they’ve been through REALLY HARD crap so the small inconveniences that come with raising 4 kids whilst pregnant don’t even make a blip on their radar. I don’t know the answer because I just don’t get those people and I probably never will.
But, today, I’m not talking to those people. I’m talking to those of you who are in a season of suck who are straight up lying when you say you’re “good.”
Let’s Stop Lying
What if I told you every time you behave like a “nice Christian girl” you are robbing your neighbor. You are taking from her the opportunity to connect–to really be with you. You’re robbing her of the chance to BE THE JESUS. When we say everything is good (when it so isn’t) all we’re doing is shining everything up.
Let’s start admitting that we’re depressed or struggling to pray or feeling shitty about our weight. Let’s admit we missed mass last week (or missed the entire last month, even). When we get really honest with how we struggle we give our neighbor a gift. We invite them into the crap with us for just a moment. Just long enough to say “hey, I’m not ok.” and accept whatever thing happens next. If we’re lucky what will follow is a moment of raw authenticity and connection and those moments are my freaking favorite moments. Those are the moments that begin a friendship. A reeeeeal friendship.
We tend to forget that Christianity is a big, fat group of broken people struggling and trying again. We’re meant to be smiling and crying together. This isn’t mean to be a “best face forward” type of situation. That crap is for pageants. One of the best parts of this whole Christianity thing is accompaniment and if you’re going through something particularly crappy and have the courage to voice it you’re inviting your sister in Christ to accompany you (and you’re giving her permission to tell you that everything is actually not “good” with her either).
And that’s really all this is about anyway. None of us better or cleaner or nicer than the other. All of us broken, sharing the real broken bits with each other.
I’m pretty terrible as of late. How are you?