Letting Go of Being Okay

Letting Go of Being Okay

Our conversation started as I saw you try to pull yourself together, try to make believe that if you say you’re okay, that you really are.  I saw the pressure and the weight that sits on your shoulders.  The tired eyes.  The tears that threaten.  And you say what has become a familiar tune: “I’m okay. It’s just…I’m feeling discouraged.”

You feel like you’re alone.  You feel like you’ll let others down if you admit your deep sadness and loneliness.  You can’t even fully put words to the feelings, so it seems better to keep it inside.  But inside you feel like a dried up piece of wood.  You don’t deny that you are here for a reason. Deep down you know it’s the right place.  But how can the right place bring you to such depths?  How can you know you are in the right place but still long for something else?

A year and a half ago, I was you.  My downs were becoming more regular and I was finding it hard to get back up. I would lie on the couch, crying, telling my husband that I didn’t know what was wrong with me.  Something was broken and it felt like it couldn’t be fixed.  It went beyond being pregnant during hot season and running after two other kids.  Sure, I was exhausted and extremely hot all the time, but it was deeper than that.  My husband said I could go back to the States early (we were scheduled to go on furlough several months later), but it felt like I would be letting the whole world down if I admitted how low I had actually become.

I think living overseas, we feel the added pressure of trying to live up to real or perceived expectations.  Are we doing enough?  We think to admit that we have these deep needs, is to somehow admit that maybe we shouldn’t be here at all.

So what should we do?

I’m reminded of the children’s book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.  They encounter all of these crazy things and the chorus is:

We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!

As much as I know you’d like to avoid the darkness, to deny the depths, to go around what you cannot explain, you have to go through it.  And how you go through it will look different than it does for someone else.  The great thing, though, is that you are definitely not alone.  Our Father wants to lovingly guide you through this time.  He will not let you go.

I know this, for He led me through the depths for several years, and when I wanted to let go, when I wanted to throw my hands up in despair and give up, He was there.  He brought me friends and counsel and rest.  He will be there for you too.  Will you trust him and walk through it?  And will you stop saying you’re okay?  Because, really, your brokenness is what He wants to use the most.

 

What about you?  Have you come through the depths as well? Or are you in the middle of it right now?   Here’s a safe place to share, among ladies who really, truly understand.  Let’s be with each other…through it!        

Photo by Oisin Conolly on Unsplash

43 Comments

  1. Holly Dove November 17, 2013

    Yes, I can understand this all too well. Two years ago began my journey into depression, and a few months ago began my journey out again. It has been a new self discovery as I learn to live with my current condition.

    It is hard for me for people not closely connected to me to come over because I feel that I am being judged because depression isn’t a physical malady that can be seen, like a broken leg, for instance. I find myself constantly apologising and using excuses like, “we’ve had a busy week” or something instead of the truth. Partly, I think, because there is so much involved in my depression (including my husband having a serious illness and my 18 year old brother being killed), and just to say that you have depression doesn’t really seem to explain things unless they have dealt with it themselves or someone close to them.

    I am very grateful for family, friends, and Church, who have been super supportive and understanding.

    1. Danielle Wheeler November 18, 2013

      Oh, Holly, that’s so much to deal with! Know that there’s no judgement here, friend. So glad you have support around you and are journeying through. Thank you for sharing.

    2. Amy S November 18, 2013

      Holly, as Amy Y. suggested, I’m going to pray for you this month, for your husband, for your family as you grieve the loss of your brother. Blessings and love from Malaysia… Amy S.

      1. Holly Dove November 18, 2013

        Thank you. It means a lot to me!

  2. Liz K November 17, 2013

    humm…right in the depths right now. I find myself trying to be real, but people don’t get it. Or I find I don’t want to say again “well, we’re not great…” how often will people really want to hear that, especially when they are just acquaintances. This has a been a hard, hard, HARD year for me in particular, but for our whole family. Probably because mom has been such a wreck. Anyway…hoping there will be a break here soon.

    1. Sara Wurgler November 18, 2013

      I relate to that so much. I hate being Debbie Downer all the time… but what if it’s where I’m at? Not everyone understands and I don’t think I have to share the depths of it with everyone or every time. But sometimes it just comes out. And how do I be honest instead of wearing my “making it all happen, life’s a dream” mask but not be such a downer?

  3. Jessica Hoover November 17, 2013

    “Your brokenness is what He wants to use the most.” That line is haunting and full of truth. I was thinking today about how God uses the weak. How He takes the weak and uses them to teach and lead the strong. I want to be the weak one that He can use. Even if it is harder, messier and hurts more. I want to be the one that is willing to say that I’m not okay so that others can feel free to ay the same and lean hard on Jesus. Thanks for your words.

    1. Danielle Krouch November 18, 2013

      I’m glad that this resonated with you! He certainly does use the weak and He wants to use our weaknesses to bring glory to Him. Your openness with help many people around you.

    2. Holly Dove November 18, 2013

      Yes, I agree, this is so true. I ‘came out’ about my depression right away and have been veery public with it, even though it is hard to admit that I don’t have it all together, and by God’s grace I have been an encouragement to others.

  4. Ashley November 17, 2013

    Yes. This was me our first year, and some of our second. Couldn’t figure out why my husband was thriving and I was dying in so many ways. My poor family didn’t know what to do with me. When we went home that first summer, I had to put on the “we’re doing great!” mask..mostly so people would keep supporting us. I mean, right?! Thankfully, the past year and a half have been so much better. The Father is softening my heart towards being here and showing me ways to thrive. I have no doubt there will be more valley times, but at least I have a semi-mountaintop time to look back on and regain hope.

    1. Danielle Krouch November 18, 2013

      Glad that this year is going better for you, Ashley! I will pray that you will continue to thrive and keep your focus on Him.

  5. Colleen Mitchell November 17, 2013

    I am here now. Right in the depths. I just finally said to a few people yesterday, “I am not okay.” More and more my husband and I are having be real with each other and say we are not okay, something is not connecting right here (in our overseas base not our marriage). We are asking hard questions about our future and the deeper we dig, the more tired and depressed I get and the fewer answers there seem to be. I feel the same way as the commenter above who said she worries people will get tired of hearing she’s struggling…and like the post…dread we’ll get the, “well, maybe this isn’t for you, maybe you should just go home and figure things out..” I didn’t respond to the together post the other day because it was just too painful for me. But I am grateful for the message that I am not alone and for a safe place to say that I am not really okay.

    1. Danielle Wheeler November 18, 2013

      No, you’re not alone! And yes, you’ve found a safe place. Praying for you, Colleen.

  6. Trish Sowers November 17, 2013

    Yeah, not really “okay” here, either. A few months ago my son and I were kidnapped, and miraculously, we were both released physically unharmed. But underneath, we’re both dealing with fears and emotions that don’t seem to “fit” with the feelings of awe and gratitude that we also feel. We’re a bit PTSD-ish, at the moment, and I keep thinking “we should be getting over this!” But the reality is that we’re NOT over it, and it may be a long while ’til we are. It’s hard.

    1. Danielle Wheeler November 18, 2013

      I can’t even imagine, Trish. Do you have help/counseling for walking through PTSD?

      1. Trish Sowers November 18, 2013

        Yes, my son and I are both meeting with a trauma counselor, once a week, by phone (since this kind of help isn’t available in our rural part of Honduras).

    2. Amy Young November 18, 2013

      Trish,

      What you and your son have gone through, I do not want to minimize by tossing a few resources at you! So, let’s just sit with that for a moment. How scary and awful. It’s not something you “get over,” but traumatic events are something you can “get through” with God’s help (and he uses all kind of help!)

      1. After going through a traumatic event, debriefing is necessary. And the closer to the event, the better. However, whenever is better than never! If you could get a few friends together to and go through the seven steps in this article http://www.info-trauma.org/flash/media-e/mitchellCriticalIncidentStressDebriefing.pdf

      OR if there is a professional near you, if they could walk you through this. All the better. You will need to process this out of you — so if you find yourself needing to talk about it a lot, you are normal! The more you talk about it, the more it can work its way through you and the traumatic part out. But you might still have reactions for a while (after a very traumatic car accident it took me months not to internally freak when the car I was in would brake)

      2. Have you heard of EMDR? It is a very effective form of therapy (often just needed once or twice) that help a stuck memory or image get unstuck. I’ve had the privilege of sitting in two different EMDR sessions and if the counselor is a Christian, it is like being at a healing!! Wow.

      For those not familiar it might sound a little wacky, wacky weird :). I get that. Basically, most of our thoughts are processed through both sides of our brain and then move on out. But on rare occasions, some memory or event will get stuck and just loop around our brains. EMDR helps to unloop it, process it, and move it out. Not that we forget what happened, but it doesn’t have the same emotional charge that it had.

      http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/emdr-what-is-it

      EMDR counselors are more and more common, please see if there might be one near you.

      Emotions are complex. God has made us wonderfully complex. You can feel awe, gratitude and fear and discombobulated at the same time — and it is all true!

      You said, “it’s hard.” Indeed it is. We can’t undo what’s happened, but we can walk with you 🙂

      Amy

    3. Laura November 18, 2013

      Trish, praying for you and your son.

  7. Danielle Wheeler November 18, 2013

    Father, my heart is aching for these women who’ve shared their stories here. As they bare their brokenness today, hold them close, Lord. You are Immanuel, God with us. Give each one an extraordinary sense of your presence today. Amen.

    1. Morielle November 18, 2013

      Joining with you in this prayer.

  8. Heather M November 18, 2013

    This resonates with me. There is the part of me that really is great. I’m in the middle of a year overseas in Africa where I’ve been striving to get to for a decade with long term plans in the works. But still daily miss and long for the person I let go (or he let go of me) to come here. I keep thinking time should make it feel better but seven months and counting. Can’t share that with everyone all the time. Trying to find the balance of support. Big lessons on trust, obedience and sacrifice.

    1. Morielle November 18, 2013

      Heather, I can’t imagine the strains on your heart right now. Praying for you, sister.

  9. Kristi November 18, 2013

    I am not there now, but I have been there. I was so low that I would have had to climb a ladder to reach despair. Danielle, the line that resonates with me is “But how can the right place bring you to such depths?” I couldn’t understand how a God who said He loved me would take me from a place that I loved and put in place where feelings of isolation, abandonment, uselessness, and being unwanted bombarded me day and night. Did I not hear Him correctly? Was I being punished? Looking back I know He never left my side. He took me to that dark place because He knew that I needed to know Him more truly and deeply than before. He also taught me I needed other as well. I did go back to the States. I was ashamed and humiliated. It took time, but I eventually noticed that I was loved deeply by those in my church family. They rallied around me. I had to go through it. There was not way around it. It was painful. But it was necessary. I am now it a beautiful place. I’m back overseas. Without the brokenness I’d never be able to appreciate the beauty!

    1. Danielle Krouch November 18, 2013

      Wow. Thank you for sharing a part of your story with us. Praise God that you had people to rally around you and loved you. When I moved to Cambodia from Mongolia, I had all those feelings that you mentioned at the beginning. Your last sentence is wonderful: “Without the brokenness, I’d never be able to appreciate the beauty!” Amen, sister.

  10. Patty Stallings November 18, 2013

    Dear friends, asking for the Tender Shepherd to be near you and to comfort you as you share in the fellowship of suffering. Thank you for sharing your stories.

  11. Jennifer November 18, 2013

    I am there and I am not in a place where it is ok to say I am not ok. Right now I am not trying to talk about it but when I have tried in recent times the normal reaction has honestly been a refusal to talk to me at all.

    1. Kristi November 18, 2013

      No one here will refuse to hear you heart. Please share.

    2. Danielle Krouch November 18, 2013

      I am sorry and saddened that you are not in a place that supports you fully, just as you are. Thankfully we have a Father who is well acquainted with grief and He doesn’t refuse to listen. You also have this group of women who are eager to pray for you and come around you.

    3. Kristi November 18, 2013

      Praying for you.

    4. Holly Dove November 18, 2013

      I will be praying for you daily this month, dear sister. It is truly a hard place to be in.

    5. Jennifer November 19, 2013

      Thank you for hearing what I was trying to say and accepting me. Thank you for being prepared to pray for me. It is a great gift. Right now in many ways I am only walking one step at a time, one day at a time… but I am still walking.

      1. Kristi November 19, 2013

        Thank you for letting us walk with you.

  12. Amy Young November 18, 2013

    To those of you who are walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, can I just tell you how brave you are.

    You might not think of yourself as being brave at the moment, but you are. You are brave to get up day after day and interact with people. You are brave to be honest with yourself (and us) about how you are.

    Having been down this long and winding path with more folks than I ever imagined when I first put my foot on foreign shores, I’ve gathered some resources and offer them here — not to “fix” you, but to walk with you.

    1. TO THOSE NOT IN THE VALLEY — would you please “adopt a sister” and in the comments above just write “praying for you” and then the next month pray for her? Even though you won’t know more than you know now, the Spirit does. Write her name on a piece of paper and place it where you’ll remember to pray for her. As you cook, fold laundry, commute, brush your teeth. The biggest “resource” we can offer to our sisters is prayer and our presence.

    2. Sometimes our thinking can get out of whack when we are depressed — and it becomes so automatic, we don’t even notice it. Scripture reminds us over and over how important our thoughts are because out of them flow our feeling and reactions/responses. (This isn’t meant to shame you and say, “hey lady, get your thoughts right!” It’s meant to give you some context :))

    Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) help us to figure out where we might need to change how we think/talk to ourselves — http://www.thehappinessinstitute.com/freeproducts/docs/Examples%20Of%20Unhelpful%20Thinking.pdf And http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/do-you-have-an-%E2%80%9Cant%E2%80%9D-infestation-how-to-deal-with-automatic-negative-thoughts/

    Give someone you trust — spouse, good friend — permission to point out what they hear or read (if in emails) from you. You might be using “all” or catastrophizing in ways you didn’t realize. We can’t change or pray about things we’re not aware of.

    3. IF it is available, you might want to go to the doctor and have a check up to be sure nothing else is going on. When you are in the Valley of the Shadow of Death that probably sounds too overwhelming to navigate. Can you have a friend be your advocate and figure out the steps for you? Of setting up an appointment? Sometimes medicine is easier to get in a foreign country –if the doctor thinks your blood chemistry may have gotten out of balance a bit medicine can be a resource. And medicine alone isn’t going to solve the problem — find someone (friend, counselor) to help you untangle and sort out some of what is going on in your head, heart, and soul. God is in the business of restoration, though not always quickly.

    4. I like this one http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm
    if you just need a place to start. They offer small practical steps.

    5. If you or a loved one (spouse, child, or friend) will be traveling while walking this path, this is a helpful list to remember: http://matadornetwork.com/abroad/dealing-with-depression-thousands-of-miles-from-home/

    I don’t mean to overwhelm you with resources, but I also have some for anxiety of that would be helpful.

    We here at Velvet Ashes are not “professionals,” but we are professional carers! Thank you for enhancing our community by offering a piece of yourself.

    Amy on behalf of all of us at VA

    (see comment above for resources in traumatic situations)

  13. Laura November 18, 2013

    “How can you know you are in the right place but still long for something else?” This is me. After eight months on my third field, I found my heart resonating with this post. I’m learning to speak up and let people I trust know that I’m not doing well. This has allowed them to encourage and challenge me. I am thankful for friends and family who listen and encourage. And for others who provide wisdom and help, specifically a counselor in the States who is willing to communicate and help via email. And especially for the chance to spend the next two weeks surrounded by friends who know me well.

    1. emily thomas November 20, 2013

      I pray this next two weeks is a beautiful time around people who know you well that will refresh you as you head back. Remember you are even more fully known by the Lord. It’s easier to type that than believe it sometimes, but it’s also so important to remember what’s True when we don’t feel it at all.
      Praying for you!

  14. Sara Wurgler November 18, 2013

    I am not okay. I have lived in this country for 14 months and may have to move into my 3rd apartment so far. I just survived a bout of bedbugs in our home only to have a realtor knock on our door and tell us that our landlord is looking to sell. I am praying oh so hard that he won’t and he says he isn’t (so confusing and we don’t know who to believe and how to sift through all the language and cultural miscommunication). I am a mom of three small children and a person can only take so much. I am living in uncertainty, very aware of the fact that this is not my home. And it’s not… I know it whether there’s a knock at my door or not… I’m longing for stability and family and a lighter burden. And, if I’m really honest, I hate the fact that if I have to move, I won’t be able to “produce.” My checklist goes by the wayside for weeks on end and I feel under the pile. All the things I need to do to be the kind of wife/mother/M that I want to be… So here I am, with all of my junk and idols, and He keeps messing with it. I know I’m being freed and unraveled from this bondage of trying to act like I have it all together but it’s so painful!

    1. Andrea November 21, 2013

      Hey Sister,
      I am lifting you up. I was just brought out of a valley so similar to yours! Your story resonates with me so much. We have also been here 15 months, and have small children and have been battling fleas and other illnesses for months. I want to tell you that I am praying for you, don’t let Satan tell you your suffering is meaningless, it is not meaningless, you are suffering for the gospel, even if it is bedbugs! God is doing a work, I promise, He loves you so much. Now on the other side of 5 months of adrenal fatigue and depression, in moments of extreme darkness, I could humble myself before God in ways like never before, and in that darkness he was transforming me, now there is hope, the clouds have lifted. God had a plan through it all. I am praying for swift renewing hope for you sister.

    1. Danielle Krouch November 18, 2013

      Thanks for sharing your story! Sounds like you have the right perspective, although we know it’s hard! Moving is so much work and also the uncertainty and lack of stability are very hard. Times like this make me long for heaven all the more! Praying that in the midst of the uncertainty that you can find the strength you need.

      1. emily thomas November 20, 2013

        Yes, Danielle, those times do make us long for heaven! That’s actually not a bad place to be, right?!

  15. Holly Dove November 19, 2013

    Two songs I have found to be really helpful through this stage of my life are Aaron Shust’s Rest In The Arms and Gungor’s Please Be My Strength.

  16. skye January 19, 2014

    hi danielle, how fun to see you here! 🙂 and thanks for sharing your heart in a way that is such a blessing!  take care and God bless you and your whole family!  love, skye

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