When Things Go Wrong
Last week we had one of those nights where everything we’d planned fell apart. Have you been there? First, it was the computer acting up. Then it was the projector. We tried various solutions to fix the problem, but we were at a loss.
Night like this are always frustrating. We try our best, but then end up surrendering to the reality that we can’t fix the issue. It made me think about life and what we do when things go wrong.
What do we do when everything falls apart and we’re left with the broken pieces? How do we act when our plans fail, our dreams die, and relationships crumble?
When things go wrong, there’s not a magic formula for putting life back together. I’m not sure of a five step plan for reorganizing and reinventing life.
The truth is, sometimes things are just broken. And we have to sit in the wreckage.
When things go wrong, the worst thing we can do is act like nothing is wrong. It’s okay to mourn and grieve and express anger. It’s okay to be confused and doubtful and lost. It’s okay to not be okay.
Part of the beauty of being human is admitting that we don’t have it all together. From the time we are young, it seems, there’s a narrative we’re handed that tells us to stand up straight, to wipe away the tears, and to the face the world stoic and brave, without pain or emotion.
Emotion is seen as weakness. Caring makes us vulnerable. The problem, however, is when we live like this, we aren’t really living at all. We’re just acting.
Jesus talked about being a hypocrite in the gospels. You’ve probably heard this before, but the Greek word for hypocrite referred to an actor, literally “one who wears a mask.” The true person was behind the mask, only showing the world what they came to see.
Jesus said this is the context of religious leaders being, you know, super religious and fake for religion’s sake (aka pretending to be one thing while you’re actually another).
I have a hunch that we do this in our lives. We pretend to be okay when we’re not. We pretend to be one person for the world, when deep inside we’re somebody else. We hide our true selves.
Perhaps you know someone who is able to “turn it on” when needed. When they get on the stage or in front of the crowd, they have this ability to say all the right things and project a certain image. But when you talk to this person behind closed doors, they are completely different.
I’m not trying to just point the finger at high profile leaders who have a certain image to keep up. In fact, we’re all guilty of this. I know I am.
Hypocrisy has a lot to do with how we act when things break and fall apart too. Do we let others in? Do we share the pain so we can heal? Or do we hold onto it, keeping everyone we know away?
Because keeping up appearances doesn’t bring healing into our lives. It just masks the issue.
About a year ago, I had some unresolved pain in my life. It was easier to keep it bottled up than to allow others in. I dealt with the pain internally. I fought it solo and it weighed heavily upon me. I remember the heaviness of my heart, and the fear I had about opening up.
The funny thing is, I know this approach doesn’t work. Life and counsel has taught me otherwise. But, let’s be for reals– this is easier said than done. It wasn’t until I got honest about what was going on in my life that I could open up about it.
Someone once told me that when things go wrong, we have to think about prepositions.
Because the only way to deal with pain is to go through it–not around it, or under it, or over it.
To heal, you must feel.
When things go wrong in our lives, we have a choice. Amidst the chaos and pain and confusion and heartache, we must act.
We must choose to open up.
We must choose to let the pain out.
We must choose to not hide behind the masks.
You gotta go through the pain and truly feel it. Because that is how we heal.
When dreams die and things fall apart, let it come crashing down. There is beauty in ashes. There is redemption in brokenness. Sit in the mud and mire. God is there. He won’t let you journey alone.
When things do go wrong–and they will–let us not forget that God is good and right. Let’s not forget that He invites us to take off the masks and embrace His love, His grace, and His healing.