When I was a kid, there were a lot of neighborhood football games. When kids play football in the back yard, without helmets and pads, it is a good idea for them to play something like “touch” football. The guy with the ball only has to be touched by the opposing player to be considered down.

I avoided playing “touch” football as much as I could. First of all, there were constant arguments about whether someone actually was touched. “You are down way back there!” “Nuh-uh! Nobody touched me! You missed!” More time was spent determining if someone was touched or not than actually playing. When someone gets tackled and another guy is sitting on top of him, being down is much more obvious.

Of course, playing tackle football in the backyard with no pads or helmets results in a lot more bruised and bumps and perhaps a few more concussions. I remember playing in the neighbor’s front yard on one sunny afternoon and bouncing my skull off the ground and having the strange sensation that only someone who has had their brain rattle around inside their noggin has experienced. The stars came out early that afternoon as my bell got rung pretty hard.

“Mike! Are you OK?”

“Yeah, I’m good.”

No, I wasn’t OK. These days I would have been taken to the hospital and would have failed the flashlight in the eyes test. Instead, I kept playing football but I don’t remember anything else that happened that day.

When I was a little older, there were a bunch of us playing football and one poor guy had the ball and everyone on my team tackled him at the same time. It took a while for us all to untangle. When we did, my lip was bleeding and swelling.

“Mike! Are you OK?”

I spit my front tooth out and ran my tongue over the jagged edge of what was left and said, “Yeah, I’m good.”

No, I wasn’t good. My jaw hurt and my lip hurt and I was worried about that busted tooth. I kept playing football but I was distracted and didn’t enjoy a second of it because I was worried about the lousy tooth.

Some people may think that it is good for a boy to become a man saying, “Yeah, I’m OK.” But the truth is that it is just learning to lie. Those aren’t harmless lies either. They are lies that stay with us and build our character. My character was built on telling others I was fine when I really, truly wasn’t.

I remember meeting with my pastor one day.

“Mike, are you doing OK?”

“Yep, I’m fine.”

I wasn’t fine. I wasn’t even close to fine. In fact, I couldn’t have been much worse. Life was terrible and I was struggling with the mess I had made of it. I was being crushed and suffocated but when someone cared and would try their best to help me asked, I lied.

I didn’t want to be a whiner. I didn’t want to be a complainer. If I was going to complain, it was going to be about what other people were doing, not the hurt that was eating me alive. When I look back at all the times I needed help and was not OK and told everyone I saw that I was just fine, I think, “Mike, you have been one stupid dude.”

God does NOT want me to go through life pretending that I am not hurting when I am. Even if that hurt is just a little one, he wants to fix it. He desires to meet me daily through his word.

Jeremiah 17:14 O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone!

I need to be honest first of all with God, cry out to him, and admit I need him. I have to learn to seek him in times of trouble and not just tough it out. Pretending a hurt isn’t there doesn’t make it go away, healing does. I need to be healed, not carry pain around secretly.

When I feel that God doesn’t answer, I need to talk to other people. Sometimes he answers through others. But people are just people and if they don’t really know who I am, they probably aren’t even going to have a clue that I need help.

James 5: 16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

God uses other people when I am honest and let them know what is going on in my life. When I stop lying and saying, “I’m good” when I’m really not good at all.

God, today help me to speak the truth so that I may be healed and help others find healing as well. Amen.

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