Thursday, July 19, 2018

It’s Okay NOT to be Okay

It’s okay NOT to be okay.  I have heard people say this a few times and have seen it in different forms on social media.  And I have certainly heard the term in my head over the last few months, for sure.  But for a certainty, it really is past time that we, as people, Christians especially, realize the truth of this statement.  You are not perfect, nor are you expected to be, (no matter what others may put on you).  As long as you are on this side of the earth you will never be.  And that is “perfectly” okay.

You see the church has said some things to me over the years, and especially since the death of my son, Joseph, that would have me to believe that it is a sin and a dishonor for people to know that you are not okay.  For some reason we have this idea in our heads, that when you display some sign of weakness, some sign of imperfection, some sign that something is wrong with your life, that what you are telling people is that God is not good.  “The church” has also stressed that since you are NOT okay, you yourself cannot go and preach to others to believe God or walk in faith, if you are struggling to do so.  I believe that as long as you continue to live your life; continue to do what you know to do, in spite of your feelings; continue to strive to believe God (remember the father of the boy with the unclean spirit, Mark 9:24,  “Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief.”), as long as you desire to live in faith (even the little that you hold on to); you can share your experience with others and encourage people to hang on to theirs.  Time out for everything to be okay with you.  Especially by someone else’s standards.  God does not put that on us, don’t let someone else put it on you.  It’s okay NOT to be okay.  You are not practicing sin.  You are not being a bad example and you can still encourage someone else.

We do God and people an injustice when we walk around as if everything is right with our world, because what we are doing is pretending.  Pretending that things are perfect in our lives and they could not be any better.  When we walk around as if we have it altogether it is part of the reason why unbelievers and the world cannot relate to us, because unlike you, they have issues.  Real ones.  Problems that get them down.  Problems in need of solving.  But if you don’t have any, or pretend that you don’t, how will they know about the problem solver you claim to know?  Or better yet, that their problems can be solved by the Problem Solver you claim to know.  People are delivered by real testimony.  Real situations.  Real circumstances.  Real feelings.  Not something you heard, or made up, but what you have actually gone through.  And if you do not share it, or think it’s okay to share it, how will they know?

Yes, I know.  People should not know everything you are going through. And I agree with that to an extent.  But when people know that you’ve been hurt and see you trying to pretend that you are not, what they actually see is hypocrisy.  You are talking a good game that all is right with your world, when it is not. Clearly.  People know, lots of them, that my son Joseph was killed.  People know how much that must hurt, most people anyway.  But if I were to walk around pretending that I am not hurting, I not only hurt myself, but I hurt others, because some would believe, one, I must have not loved him as much as I said I do; or two, I am invincible (perfect) and have no feelings.  Feelings matter.  Mine, yours.  Yes, we are called to walk by faith, which is why you can overcome those feelings… casting aside every high thing that exalts itself against the Word of God. So, when it comes to am I going to ride with these feelings and let them sink me deep into a depressive state or am I going to take up my bed and walk; my faith says, take up your bed and walk, even if I am walking with a limp.

It's okay NOT to be okay.  It’s okay to feel it.  If you try and bypass those feelings, even talking them out, you’re pretending that you have it altogether.  But you don’t.  You’re holding it inside, too afraid to say something for fear of being judged and you’re giving a place to the devil.  He will take those thoughts and twist them.  His motive is to steal, kill and destroy.  Just as he set about to get Jesus to kill Himself by throwing Himself over that mountain, that devil wants you to kill yourself too.  Whispering the very things that are hurting you back into your ear, to make you so depressed that you actually believe it to be better if you were not here.  Don’t let him do it to you.  It’s okay not to be okay and it’s okay to tell somebody.

Find someone to share those thoughts with.  And I know it’s hard.  There are even therapists out there who have experienced pain themselves and are not even sharing the pain that they are feeling, but in turn, taking that pain and causing someone else to fall in some way by passing on lies and false beliefs as to why they feel the way they do.  Therapists have issues too.  Please, if you are a therapist, tell people the truth and not what you would have them to believe.  Tell them you’re hurting too.  Tell them you’re not perfect.  That YOU made a mistake. Show them the power of forgiveness.  
Sometimes the not being okay is because we have not forgiven ourselves.  That’s real therapy.

And for those who believe that people are okay when they are not, don’t think of people being dramatic, or overly so.  What does that mean anyway?  They may have some real issues and you miss the sign, the call for help, if you simply dismiss it as, “her being dramatic,” “or this is what he always does.”  That “drama” might just be a cry for help.  For an ear.  For a hug.

I often wonder what it is that pushes people over the edge.  I believe that the thoughts are always there.  And in little ways, people play a role.  You never know what that phone call did or how the slightest little thing changed a thought.  What happened to Kate Spade recently and Anthony Bourdain, and of late, Bobbi Kristina Brown and Robin Williams, is not a rare occurrence.  Suicidal thoughts are even with people that are well known, loved, successful, young and old.  We never know who these thoughts are affecting and to what degree.  But I do believe this, for whatever reason, those thoughts may not have been shared.    Lots of people suffer inside, in silence, for many reasons and it seems these days we make it harder for them to say anything about it.  For fear of what others might think.  Unfortunately, especially in the household of faith. 

We have this thing in the church, that if something is wrong with your life, you did something for it to be wrong.  We have become very judgmental, hiding behind the Word, and people, especially leaders, are afraid to say anything.  They are living behind the fa├žade that all is right with their world, when they need to be on the altar, the most.  It’s okay not to be okay.  It’s okay to hurt.  It’s okay to feel bad, to be sad, to mourn, to grieve.  It’s okay to display emotion.  All of them. 

I know there was a part in the Bible where God spoke to Ezekiel when his wife died, and He commanded Ezekiel not to mourn her.  But God had a specific purpose for doing that, and unless He told you not to mourn, not to hurt, not to cry, you do it.  It’s okay not to be okay.  And it’s okay to say so.

It’s okay to cry.  It’s okay to say you are doubting right now.  It’s okay to come clean with where you are spiritually.  In your walk.  You are free from condemnation.  In spite of what people tell you.

Now of course there is another side to this, because there are always two sides to a story.  It is the way you do it.  Don’t be like Job’s wife and curse God and die, because something has happened to you.  Continue to believe.  Continue to have faith.  Continue to confess that and ask God to help you with your struggle.  Ask God to help you to believe again.  To restore the joy of His salvation.  And most of all, ask Him to be glorified in it all.  Because if that is your ultimate goal even in the midst of your pain, God WILL be glorified.  He can be, and He will be.

It really is okay NOT to be okay.  Take it from someone who knows.  And I admit I am NOT okay.  But I WILL BE.  

And there shall be glory after this, because God is real. 

Sis. E

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Justice Served

Joseph’s trial is over.  Although Raymond Blinn, the man who killed my son, never admitted verbally what he had done, justice has been served. 

No, certainly not the kind of justice that I dreamed of, what I wanted nor even the kind that could ever bring Joseph back, but a peace has been restored, that only God could bring.  And for that I am grateful.

The judge read the determination… “It has been determined by the State of New Jersey, County of Burlington, that in the case of Evelyn and Jeffery Fannell, on behalf of the Estate of Joseph M. Fannell, as the plaintiff vs. Raymond Blinn, the defendant Raymond Blinn was responsible for the wrongful death of Joseph Fannell.”  Not that we needed a court to determine that, but this land is governed by law, as unfair as it may be is, sometimes.

After 2 ½ years those fighting on behalf of Blinn, finally came over to extend their long-awaited sincere condolences and apologies and with them all of a sudden, so did Patricia Blinn.    Before I realized it, she was right there, in my face, greeting me and extending her arms to hug me.
A quick glance and all I saw was my daughter Brandi, as her eyes welled with tears and the next thing all I could do was hug that woman, the wife of the man who killed my son.  First with one arm, which quickly extended to the other.  I grasped her as she expressed her apologies at the loss of my son.  Sharing from a mother-to-mother stance, and that she had a grandson the same age as my Joe.  Here in this moment, what I wanted from the very beginning and never thought possible, not only an apology, but I saw firsthand in myself, the grace and mercy, love and forgiveness of God.  The thing we talk about often but far less often, practice.

I was reminded of so much in that moment.  The forgiveness of God and how in spite of what we do, He always extends His arms (both of them) to hug us.  And God also told me this, in that moment, that I wanted from the very beginning, I did not receive until I let it go.  That it wasn’t until I let go of receiving an apology, that I got one.  It wasn’t until I said out of my mouth, ‘Raymond Blinn didn’t matter anymore,’ that it really didn’t.  The whole time, the last three years, it has been a part of my confession, that driver never apologized.  And it wasn’t until I changed that confession, progress took place.  God reminded me that true forgiveness is receiving an apology that you will never get. And that’s what I did when I finally said, “I don’t care about the apology.”

And then God said this.  And I often tell women how special they are in the eyes of God.  I say it to the women in my church, I say it to the women at the Tea, however and as much as I’m led to.  Women really are special in the eyes of God.  We have His heart.  God said, it was because of Abigail, the wife of Nabal, that David did not kill him.  She went ahead and asked for mercy on the behalf of her husband. And because of that, her husband survived.  God said it was because of Patricia Blinn, that her husband received the grace he had been given.  It was because of her that he received forgiveness.

And it was because of God, that I was able to extend it.  Only God.

God can do nothing for me, until I recognize the limit of what I can do for myself as a human being, which allows Him to do the impossible.    

Forgiving, letting go and extending grace to the man who killed my son. 

He is forgiven, because I am.  And because I am forgiven, I am free.  Justice (for me) has been served.  And I believe that is what Joseph would want for any one of us.

Sleep in peace my Joe.

His mom, and the Lord’s servant,
Sis. E

Joseph Malik Fannell
January 14, 1993 - June 5, 2015

Monday, February 5, 2018


My husband, Jeff, was away for a couple of days recently.  For those who don’t know him, after working for the Major League Baseball Players Association for over 10 years, God allowed him to start his own business.  It’s been five years and he’s doing great, having just relocated into larger space. (God will increase your territory and bless you indeed, if you wait).  But in his current business, he represents players from the union and/or their agents. 

From the end of January through February is salary arbitration period.  Baseball season is over, and this is the time that has been set aside where players (if eligible), negotiate for a new contract or in some cases, just a better one.  Hubby had a case where he had to argue and represent a player.  His clients were well pleased in how Jeff pleaded his case.  It says a lot about you and your character when others are well pleased in how they are represented.   God said about Jesus, this is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.  Jesus represented Him well…. Hmmmm. 

Anyway, with arbitration different sides of the case are presented, the player’s side, the union’s side and the team’s) as a case is laid by each one and presented before an arbitrator, who decides the case and determines the outcome.   (Our cases are argued too before an Arbitrator, God, who always has the final say in what the judgment will be). 

At one point, my hubby’s case didn’t look too good, and he thought they were going to lose.  While he presented a good case, another factor came in and it appeared as though the scale leaned to the other side.  This is what it looked like.  But God!  Hubby got the phone call just a day later, that they won!  That the player got what he asked for, determining the presentation of the case, a winner! 

As I was praying and thanking God for the win (I normally don’t ask for a “win”.  I pray God’s will be done and that I am able to accept what He allows, but this time, given what happened, I asked for a win), so as I was thanking God for the win, I heard Him say, “In spite of what it looks like He allows for a win.”

In spite of what it looks like, in spite of how that person stepped in and seemingly messed things up for you; in spite of laying the proper foundation and things took a turn; in spite of your stumbling and stuttering during the job interview; in spite of what is showing up in your bank account.  In spite of what it looks like, God allows for a win.  He allows you to win.

God goes against the flow.  Remember that.  Greater is He that is in you than he that is with the world.  You and Him are more than enough.  With God, all things are possible, in spite of what it seems.  When the odds are stacked against you, God allows for a win.  Especially if it was God Who put it in your spirit to ask for it.  And just a day later… God said, “Catch that!”

I am reminded of a song by Jekalyn Carr.  The words have this running theme, “The enemy came up against your home, your children, your name, your character, your health, your finances, your vision.  You will win.  know you're hurt, I know you're torn I know you are broken.  But you will win.  All of those may be facts, but the Truth still remains that in the name of Jesus, you will win.   All of those may be facts but the truth still remains that in the name of Jesus You will win.” 

In the name of Jesus, you will win.  Declare it to be your winning season, as the song continues… “It’s your winning season and everything attached to you wins.  You will win.  God allows us for it!

Because God is real.  “Thanks be unto God Who ALWAYS causes us to triumph in Christ Jesus.”

Still a servant of the Lord,
Sis. E

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