Smooth Criminal is a song constantly sung in my household. Never the whole song, but the hook goes on and on around here… “Are you okay, Annie?” I honestly don’t remember where it came from. It could be from a camp where we met a kid named Annie, but I think it was before that. We don’t know. But those words have come in handy a whole lot. We’ve got an easy way to ask if we’re okay, and the language is familiar and we know exactly what it means. We’ve got the freedom to ask, too.
Today is the day when all of Australia are given permission to ask the question of each other, too. We’ve been encouraged to ask “are you okay?” and it’s important that this starts becoming a part of what friendships are. We need to be able to ask others this question, and to mean it. People need to be able to answer sincerely without fear. We also need to know that if we’re a little bit not okay, it’s okay to share that… you don’t need to be in crisis to speak up.
A little while ago I was laying in bed with a swirl of anxiety inhabiting my stomach. It was a knot I couldn’t shake and no amount of breathing to calm down helped. My half-asleep husband sat up a bit and asked “are you okay, Annie?” and I felt silly. It wasn’t that anything was horribly wrong, there was just a lot in my head. I shared the list of little things that were making up the knots in my stomach and it felt like a weight had been lifted. It wasn’t just me who knew anymore.
It’s happened with friends. It’s happened with family. The freedom of sharing what’s happening means that you’re not walking in the mess alone anymore and when there’s someone else plodding through the mess of life with you, it’s a whole lot different. You don’t need to have it all
You don’t need to have it all together, either. You really don’t. We exist in this lie that says that unless you have it all together then you’re not really doing well with life… you’re a failure at life if you’re struggling. But if you look behind the curtains of any and every life there are stories of struggle that make the beautiful moments so much more beautiful. The beautiful moments often happen in the midst of the mess when we let people in – Inside Out taught me that in a whole new way, too.
When it comes to church life it’s all too easy to slip on a happy face and get through a service before leaving, or even to not show up at all because you feel rubbish, but there’s something about church that we all need to remember – we’re a family. Those happy faces should be able to fall off, just like you toss your bag to the ground when you get home from work. As we walk together, following Jesus, it’s our privilege to bear one another’s burdens in prayer and in practicality. If you’re not okay, tell someone who loves you and loves Jesus – and if someone speaks to you, speak the truth of God’s love back and pray for them then and there. It’s okay to not be okay among God’s people because the gospel says that we’re all one in Christ, loved and sinful and living in a broken world until God Himself wipes our tears away… so let’s do that well.
In the end, though, it’s no complicated to keep walking with someone. We often think that if someone shares with us we must fix all their problems lest we fail as a friend. That’s not it. There are some simple resources with steps to help us out with this…
All you’ve got to do is be a friend by asking and keep being a friend afterwards. Asking can become sharing, and sharing becomes checking in later to see how they’re doing. We work together to see each other thrive. It’s better when we do.
I won’t keep you too long… but, are you okay, Annie? What’s on your mind today? What’s weighing down your heart? What’s making you smile in the middle of the mess we call this life? Let’s talk about it all – the good and the bad.