Yesterday I had both boys with me when I stopped in at the endocrinologist for a quick blood draw. Had I had my brain together I would have gone on Tuesday when I could have gone alone, but it was one of those days where I kept thinking “I KNOW there was something I was going to do today while I have a free moment…now what was it?” So, I forgot and thus the trip with both of them. I didn’t think it would be too bad, all I had to do was put on a brave face for a few seconds and then we’d be out of there. Wrong. I was doing great, smiling calmly at the boys (ok, Indy was oblivious, Gates was hovering with curiosity and a little trepidation); and then, she COULDN’T FIND THE VEIN! I have never had that happen before. So there I was grinning like a maniac at Gates as I silently screamed, “OK, this hurts, this hurts, this hurts!” And Gates asked the question that all children want to know when confronted with a needle, “Does it hurt?” “Well, a little bit,” I responded. (Oh, PLEASE find that vein quickly and get this over with!) He hovered, I kept my smile pasted on my face, and the nurse finally found the vein. As we left Gates said “I don’t think I ever want someone to take my blood.” So much for calmly setting an example that this is something that isn’t to be dreaded. Children can often see through our little white lies. I expect he knew perfectly well that despite my smile this was something that hurts more than just a little bit.
I do that a lot, and I’ll bet you do to. Little white lies to hide the pain we’re in. I did it again later when someone asked how I was doing. “Fine, how about you?” No mention of the fact that I’ve thrown my back out AGAIN and had taken a muscle relaxant which wasn’t working except to make me so groggy that not only was I in pain every time I moved, but I could happily have leaned up against a wall and fallen fast asleep.
It’s no big deal, it’s not like it’s a lie that HURTS anyone. So we paste our smiles on our face and we pretend we aren’t in pain and ‘fine’ becomes our conditioned response.
If you haven’t figured it out yet in your life let me tell you something…telling everyone we are fine when inside we are screaming “It hurts, it hurts, it hurts!” does not help us. It’s like bleeding to death outside of the emergency room because we are too proud to go in and admit that we’re bleeding. But that little lie of “I’m fine” does something else too. It robs those around us of the chance to be church. It robs them of the chance to bring comfort to a member of the body that is hurting. Left long enough, it will turn a church into a shell of a building filled with the shells of people all walking around with smiles on our faces saying “I’m fine.” And I don’t think that a church where everyone is ‘fine’ will be very effective at reaching out to a world full of people who are feeling that they are NOT fine.
I know there is a balance to be had between complaining about our every ache and being honest about when we are hurting. And there is a time for knowing who to share your hurts with and who may not have the maturity to handle it. But in a world that is broken it’s time to let the church do its mission, ministering to the physically, spiritually, emotionally broken people both inside and outside of its walls. No more little white lies.