In 1967, Thomas Anthony Harris wrote the book, I’m Ok – You’re Ok. Wildly popular for its time, it was on the bestseller list for several years and sold over 15 million copies, which in the 70s was quite a big deal. In it, Harris postulates about four ways people view life:
I’m Not Ok, You’re Ok. According to Harris, we all start out this way because children intuitively know they are small and weak and dependent on adults for everything.
I’m Not Ok, You’re Not Ok. This is the worldview of people who have been abused or traumatized in some way. They may alternatively take the view, I’m Ok, You’re Not Ok, although this is not as common.
The healthiest way to look at life, according to Harris, is I’m Ok, You’re Ok.
Recently a friend sent me her “guidelines to be happy.” The list was full of good ideas. Things like don’t look for approval from others, give yourself positive affirmations, get organized, eat more protein and greens, drink water, be grateful, keep good company, etc. I do not doubt that if you did all of those things or even some of them, you’d be happier, or more ‘Ok.’ But what if we are not meant to be Ok?
What if we quit trying to be Ok and instead became Ok with not being Ok?
I can’t remember a time in my life that I haven’t felt chagrin with some aspect of my self or my life. Like my thighs. Or my finances, my feelings, my relationships, things I do, or think, or say. My typical response has been to project manage my way to a better me. Step 1: Identify the Problem. Step 2: Set Goals. Step 3: Get It Together Girl!
Pride makes me look at myself as something to be improved. Driven by a desire to be perfect and liked and feel comfortable in my skin, I resolve to do better, be better, feel better about my place on the planet. But this world is not my home. Jesus didn’t go to the cross so I could better manage my life and thighs; he gave up his Spirit so I could be free.
What if we looked at our weakness and brokenness as something to rest in instead of something to wrestle with? What sort of beauty might rise from the ashes if we sat in our sackcloth instead of striving?
I’m not suggesting that we walk around wounded and be happy about it, pretend it’s ok to be depressed. I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to be healthy, more grateful or more organized. But perhaps we should recognize the futility of it all – that Jesus never said, “Get it Together Girl,” he said, …give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.
Life is already so hard friends. Let’s not spend our precious days on this planet trying to reach a place of ok-ness with our un-ok selves. Let’s admit we’re not ok and look at life in light of eternity, to the day when Jesus will return and make everything Ok.