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31 Days to Keep a Tender Heart: October 24

When I go out to the waiting room to get a client, I try to always greet them by name and with a smile. As we cover the short distance from the waiting room to my office, I usually ask, “How are you today?” Almost always, my client will respond, “Fine.” Once we are safely inside my office with the door shut, I will ask this question again and my clients are almost never “fine”. They are angry, sad, depressed, terribly anxious, disappointed and uncertain of how to handle all of their “un-fine” feelings.
I really appreciate this exchange with my clients. I have laughed with several of them over how they really aren’t “fine” and why do they say this when it’s not true? But, I understand the problem because I have it too.
Chances are, if you have ever asked me how I am doing, then I probably responded with, “Fine.” And I can guarantee that some of those times, I really was not fine in that moment.
Why do we do this? Why this obsession with being “fine” all the time? Why not share how we are really feeling?
For me, I think that it has to do with my tendency to classify feelings as “good” or “bad”. I think feelings like sad, angry, disappointed, jealous and scared are “bad” and I should not have them. I feel guilty and I think I’m a bad Christian when these feelings bunch up in me. So, I pretend that I don’t feel these feelings. I hide them under the veneer of “fine.” It doesn’t really feel like lying because I’m not pretending that I’m feeling happy or content. I’m just not sharing my feelings honestly. And, I don’t want to have these feelings, so it’s hard to own them.  
I just finished reading chapter 4: with a wink and a smile, hiding behind her fake “fine” with Emily P. Freeman and Grace for the Good Girl. She explores why good girls use “fine” all the time. Emily also writes about the natural swing of emotions that God designed us to have. I underlined almost the whole chapter, but there were two parts that were particularly meaningful to me, so I will quote them here.
So often I feel embarrassed or guilty over my humanness, but our emotions and experiences are all a part of that swing.
Trying not to experience the whole spectrum of emotions is like trying to be inhuman.
Our fluctuating humanness is there on purpose, to remind us of our need and draw us to the One who can meet it. We don’t have to figure out the whys and the origins of every swinging emotion. But it is so important that we admit they are there. To embrace the color and fullness of our emotional, un-fine state is to open wide enough to receive compassion and grace. Only then will we be able to offer that same compassion and grace to others in honest and authentic ways.
To be able to receive and extend compassion and grace sounds wonderful to me. I guess I will have to start embracing my humanness and the color and fullness of my emotional, un-fine state then.
Still Counting Gifts:
·         #592: Enough perseverance (or foolishness) to do the 30 day shred video this morning
·         #593: When my dad made extra coffee just for me
·         #594: Turning getting ready into worship
·         #595: Finally being on time this 3rd week of the Zechariah study!
·         #596: How God knows exactly what I need on a daily basis and clients will cancel and open up time in my schedule just when I need it
·         #597: The work in me that still needs to be done is God’s responsibility
·         #598: When my office becomes a prayer closet
·         #599: I can still see fall colors right outside my window
·         #600: God’s love, goodness and faithfulness are all toward me
·         #601: Today, I am really enjoying my life, just as it is


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