It was a post on a ministry friend’s page that caught my attention: “It’s Ok to Not be Ok!”
I resonated with that, because there are days when things are NOT ok…
My goal has been to create an on-line forum for positivity, encouragement, faith and hope. And I will continue to do that…
However in order to be authentic, one has to acknowledge suffering, disappointment and pain. As a hospital chaplain, I work with people who suffer.. I see the tears, resulting from chronic pain, the agony of waiting for a diagnosis, the fear of the unknown. I see brave and courageous souls live with a cancer diagnosis, and equally brave folks who acknowledge the pain of a mental illness or depression. This is hard stuff.
Once in a while, I get a reality check of my own, and this has been the case in the last weeks where my body has not been doing well, from vertigo to headaches to a rash. And yesterday, a diagnosis of shingles. And yes, it is very painful.
It is ok to not be ok.
I asked my doctor if there was anything I could have done to prevent it and the answer was no. I’m all about prevention, and like many, practice diligence in self-care. But life happens. Viruses can visit anyone of us. We are not immune.
This post is not for pity or sympathy, I’m grateful for a diagnosis, and getting medical treatment. I’m thankful for the kindness and love of friends and family.
Back to the reality check… never easy to be in that waiting room, waiting for the doctor. Watching a sea of humanity join you as they too wait… elderly folk, young men, injured and hobbling, children clinging to their mamas. I’m so glad when I can pass along crayons and colouring books and hand-knitted items to these kids. They need the distraction. And grateful for those who donate these items!
“It’s all about Hurry up and Wait”, I often joke with people as they are waiting in the hospital… now it was my turn, and the wait seemed long… and the diagnosis uncertain. And I realized again these doctors are human and doing the best they can. The human body is complex and we all present differently. I could pray, as I often do with patients, “Thank you God, that YOU know what is wrong with me!” And praying for wisdom for all those trying to find out!
Recovery takes time. Recently I visited with an elderly woman who has a life-altering condition, not easy to live with in your eighties. She was struggling with all of it, and I suspected somewhat depressed. It goes with the territory. This was not the time for cheery sentiment… we needed to acknowledge this was hard for her.
But I was also able to give her an example of someone who had the same condition and overcome many challenges… and was now doing well. “Am I going to be ok?” she asked me… and I said to her, “All will be well”. And when I say that, it is not that everything will be rosy or easy… but she could choose to keep living even with new challenges, and find a way. Even when life is not easy, when we mourn the way it was, and long for a healthy body. She has a huge learning curve ahead of her as she adjusts to her new reality.
“All will be Well”, is an ancient saying coined by Julia of Norwich, and is comforting indeed. For no matter what we are facing, no matter our challenge, when we rest in the love of the One who made us, “All will be well”.
So on days, when things are not ok, it is ok to acknowledge that. We all need safe places to share our pain, to tell our stories, even to vent at times. This is part of being human. And then to give the beautiful gift of hope and love to one another, this is the best medicine.
Yesterday as I approached some of my friends down the hall at the hospital where I work, I felt surrounded by these sweet nurses who cared and were quite willing to offer much needed advice. I felt loved and cared for, even in my weakness.
It’s Ok to not be Ok. There is always hope. All will be well.
*I’m not sure who coined the phrase “Its ok to not be ok”. It is on the suicide prevention network, but could have another source. http://youmatter.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ok-not-ok/