It’s Okay to Not be Okay

It’s okay to not be okay. But it’s not okay to stay there.

I walked into Christian churches, concerts, and events for years with the goal of performing. As a pastor’s son, I thought I had an image to uphold, so I acted like I had my life together. I believed in performance-based acceptance. As long as I acted like I wasn’t sinning, everything was “good.” If my relationships with God and others were great, I believed that people would like and accept me. 
But I didn’t have my life together. I was incredibly lonely, sinning with pornography, and feeling distant in my relationships. I was terrified that if someone found out who I was, they would reject me and expose my sin. I believed Satan’s lie that I was not enough. Thoughts flowed through my head as I labeled myself “unloveable,” “unworthy,” and a “failure.” I not only believed these false labels in the context of my human relationships, but in my relationship with God Himself. 
I had hidden sin, in the place we are supposed to have the freedom to expose and confess our sin. But I felt like I needed to fake it, even in church, to be accepted. Can you relate?

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Imposter Syndrome

I think that we are subtlety told through the media that we need to be perfect. We live in constant comparison with others, believing they are better than us. Men are told they need to be strong and tough. Women are told they need to support and be perfect. We follow others we look up to, assuming they have it all together. Instead of giving us motivation to become better, this comparison tears us down. It reinforces that who we are is not good enough, and never will be.
I have even seen this in the Church, and I’m sure you have, too. No matter how much I tried to perform and be like a pastor, or influential leader, I still failed. No matter how much I read my bible and prayed, I still sinned. The lie is that if we have a good relationship with Christ, we won’t struggle or fail. If we are thriving, we won’t be failing.
Have you ever heard the expression “Fake it till you make it”? It’s the Imposter Syndrome. It says, “Don’t let anyone find out who you really are, because you won’t make it if they know who you really are.” 

But here is the reality: we are not good enough on our own! This is why Jesus came.

Okay to Not be Okay

When we understand the grace we have been given, the true nature of the Gospel, it becomes okay for us to not be okay. We can understand our sin, but also understand the Savior who paid for it.  Check out my friend Matt’s article on the guilt we feel, even when we are forgiven.
Sometimes it takes confession to realize that it’s okay to not be okay. Through years of porn addiction, I had built up the belief that it was not okay to not be okay. But in a moment of brokenness fueled by hope, I reached out and trusted others with my sin. When I admitted that I was not okay, I was met with love, understanding, and acceptance. I wasn’t rejected, like I thought I would be. This is when I learned that I could share my struggles, and not be looked down upon for them.
But there was a second lesson I learned: It is empathetically okay not to be okay, but when that okay hinders us from something that may better us, it’s not okay.

Christ Calls Us To More

The initial moment of confession, expressing our brokenness to another person is huge. But it should not end there. This life will throw many problems and pains at us. Maybe it’s divorced parents, a pandemic, difficult people, or sin. When we begin to open up about our pain, and process it with others, we are taking the second step to not stay that way.
To grow to become the person Christ created us to be, we must first confess, then process our sin and pain. Christ promises forgiveness in 1 John 1:9. But stopping there often does not produce the relational and emotional healing we desire. James 5:16 promises healing when we confess and pray for each other.
Our sin has consequences that we must deal with. We need to process the pain, understand the root of the issue, and take steps to remove ourselves from the problem. It is always tempting for us to isolate in fear. But we should run to others, with the hope of being met with love. 

Dealing With Sin and Pain

To begin my journey of confession and repentance, I needed permission. It took following authentic people who told me that I could be real. I sat for years hidden in my shame and guilt, believing the lie that I was not good enough. I showed up to church weekly lying about my great life. But when the authentic people opened up around me, and told me that it was okay not to be okay, I gave it a shot. I confessed to God, confessed to others, and began to repent from my sin.

Practical steps for dealing with sin and pain:

~ Take it to God in confession. Be real and share your true emotion.
~ Take it to others in confession and conversation. Be honest.
~ Process it. Name the fears, the sin, and talk through it with others. This is repentance.

That initial moment of opening up was terrifying for me. And it might feel terrifying to you. But don’t let your fear stop you. Confession is your first step to freedom. Here is your permission: it’s okay not to be okay, but don’t stay that way.
Jesus has paid for your sin in full, and God looks at you through Christ’s death. When you accept that good news, you become as white as snow in His eyes. So confess, repent, and experience health and freedom. Take the first step of confession!

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