Have you heard the song, “Truth Be Told” by Matthew West on the radio? It’s so good. If you haven’t, give it a watch here. It really speaks to that space where we say, “I’m fine,” when there is really a lot more going on behind that.
In this music video, there is a great example of what’s behind the “I’m fine” for moms at about minute 2:15. The Mom takes a selfie with her daughter then puts her down and walks over to the messy counter looking overwhelmed. Haven’t we all been there?
The lyrics playing during that segment reveal it:
“And when it’s out of control say it’s under control but it’s not, and you know it. I don’t know why it’s so hard to admit it when being honest is the only way to fix it.There’s no failure, no fault there’s no sin you don’t already know. So let the truth be told.”
I’ve talked about what we’re showing on the outside vs. what we’re feeling on the inside so many times. But in a world that’s constantly focused on the surface, it’s important for us to recognize the difference between the two.
As Moms, we tend to roll with the, “I’m fine,” until we’re not fine. Then we’re like a boiling pot of water that boils over. We hit burnout. It can be over the littlest things, like our kid spilling something on the floor. When we hit our breaking points, sometimes we try to pass over our feelings as if they aren’t important. But they are.
We think we have to take care of everyone else first and we can take care of ourselves later. This is often the case. But then the demands never end as moms. So we just keep stuffing down our feelings and saying, “I’m fine,” even when we’re not.
Last week I was watching the show, “A Million Little Things,” and in it there is a plot line where a couple is trying to mend their relationship after the husband had an affair and a child with another woman, a friend. They have a little boy who is obviously effected by all of this. But he doesn’t want to go to counseling so he just keeps telling his parents, “I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.”
So his mom convinces him to go if he’ll go with her and she can talk. As she talks, you can tell he’s listening. She shares this story from work. As a lawyer, she gets dropped from a case and she was upset about it. The counselor asks if she said anything and she responds that she didn’t because there was a lot going on there and didn’t want to upset the apple cart.
Then, the camera pans to her son who is nodding yet. He says, “I get that.”
You can see how it hits her; that her kid doesn’t feel like his feelings matter because he doesn’t want to upset the apple cart.
How much do you get that? It doesn’t matter if it’s us or our kids. We get that fear of adding to stress of everything or everyone else. Man I remember it from when I was a kid when my parents got divorced. Mom was always stressed about work and I was only with Dad for 2 weekends of the month because he lived three hours away. I didn’t want to upset anyone so I kept it all in. Food played a big role in my life as I did that.
But I know we so carry these behaviors into adulthood and we don’t even know it because it seems so natural for us to always put everyone else first! Having a heart for serving those we love is part of the call on our life, but we also have to take care of ourselves!
Why? Because if we don’t, we pass on the, “I’m fine,” to our kids.
The mom who was in this episode came home after this therapy session and told her husband, “I only fight for my own happiness when it aligns with everyone else’s. All this time I’ve been teaching Theo (the son) to keep things in.”
When we keep things in, we teach our kids to do the same. I’m not saying here we need to spew our emotions all over our families like a fire hose. I’m just saying, we can’t forget about ourselves and our needs because if we can access them ourselves, we can share them with our husbands and say, “I need a break.” Or they get to the point where they can say, “Yeah, you need a break.” haha
I don’t know what that looks like for you. Maybe it’s a drive alone blasting music. Maybe it’s a long shower. Maybe it’s a workout. Maybe it’s time with a friend. Maybe it’s the grocery store without any kids (which we all know the grocery store run isn’t exactly a REAL break.) What does that look like for you?
What does Jesus say in Matthew 11:29? “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
We need that rest for our souls.
It helps when we lean into Jesus. He alone can help us with what’s behind our, “I’m fine.” He should be our #1. But we also need those breaks so we can come back and mean it when we say, “I’m fine,” instead of saying it disgruntled sometimes.
Part of this is learning to be okay with feeling our feelings – whether they are mad, sad, frustrated or whatever. God can take those. But then we need a way to process those. Is it writing? Is it walking? Is it tending your garden? We all know that boiling pot of water will spill over sometimes. That’s just life with kids. I got a lot of training in that with my older stepmoms. Now it’s just this toddler world. New territory, but still! Breaks are needed so that I can truly say, “I’m fine,” and mean it!
Remember Martha and Mary in Luke 10. Martha opens her home to Jesus. Verse 39-40 says, “She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
You can tell she’s got that, “Can’t you see I’m doing everything?!” going on.
Then verses 41-42, “‘Martha Martha,’ the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things., but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary as chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. So when we get frustrated and feel like a Martha, maybe it’s time to sit at the feet of Jesus and say, “Help me Lord. You know there is more behind my, ‘I’m fine.’ Help me to give that to you and remember that I’m your daughter too and I need love and care.”
We forget that we need love and care too. But what helps everyone else is when we take care of ourselves as the daughters of God we are! Chosen and dearly loved!
When we get that time with God, bring our weakness and brokenness to Him, we gain strength for the journey of parenthood and everything else! We find the courage to say, “This is what I need before I hit burnout!”
We don’t have to go this journey alone! God is with us and so are other moms who get us. Our walks may look different, but we get each other. So we need to depend on each other in those moments when we’re not fine. We need to be honest and open with our husbands and say, “I need some time.”
I know it’s not realistic to get this everyday. But pray about when you can and pray for the willingness to say what you need.
I know it’s scary to say what we need. We can almost feel shame about asking for help, about admitting our weakness. But God.
Isaiah 61 is so full of promise. It says in verse 7, “Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be ours.”
We have to remember this verse. The Lord doesn’t want us to be ashamed. He wants to replace it with a double portion. He wants to deliver us from our fears!
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” Psalm 34:4-5
The enemy loves shame. He wants to keep us in it. But we don’t have to hold onto it.
So maybe when you find yourself saying, “I’m fine,” next time, take a look at it. What’s behind it? What’s making me say, “I’m fine?” What’s the feeling you’ve got to feel?
I think what is so often behind shame is perfectionism. I love this quote from Brene Brown, “When perfectionism is driving us, shame is riding shotgun and fear is that annoying backseat driver.”
None of us are perfect.
So maybe use those “I’m fine,” moments when you don’t really feel fine to see it as a soft alarm, to pay attention to what’s going on inside you. Go to Jesus. Share your heart. Let Him reveal the root. Then take the time to let it go a little. Do something for yourself so the next time you say, “I’m fine,” you mean it.
Heavenly Father, I pray for every mama reading this, that you meet her in her “I’m fine,” and remind her how much she is loved and worthy of care and peace. Give her the rest she needs in you and reveal the ways she can take care of herself so she can be an even better vessel for your grace. We love you Lord. We thank you for all you do in our lives. In Jesus name. Amen.
I will hopefully see you next week in a video and podcast, if not the following. Lot going on in family life! Hope you are well.