So I want to share this thought. It’s kind of something I have pondered through the years of my walk with the Lord. When we meet and greet at our congregations/churches and people ask how we are, and we are truly struggling, how do we answer?
When I first came to faith over 30 years ago, I didn’t sugarcoat anything. I was, in reality, still pretty hostile and defensive with people I didn’t know. So I tried to keep my social interactions to slim and none. It was God who I most wanted to connect with—not his people.
It was God who I most wanted to connect with—not his people.
I realize now this doesn’t reflect God’s heart or His love. But I also know there was a lot of healing the Lord had to do in me for me to even arrive at that realization. So much of our inner healing comes horizontally—in community—and not just vertically, between God and me.
I have been to more churches and congregations than I can count and I have seen the myriad ways we answer that little 3-word question, “How are you?” Sometimes people don’t even really ask it anymore. It is just something said in passing, like “Good Morning.”
When people ask me that question nowadays I still want to answer authentically. Our family has been in a season of change and struggle—some of it very beautiful and even miraculous. And some of it almost hellish.
So when that question comes my way I want to be honest. But when I say or give the impression things might be difficult, it isn’t always comfortable for the person asking the question.
However, it’s my contention when someone asks that question they should be willing to take responsibility for asking and open to hearing whatever response there may be within reason. But I find the question is often asked with an unspoken expectation that the person answering will express themselves within a range of certain accepted responses which don’t require much emotional investment from the person who asked. And this is only more true if the person asked is perceived to be a leader of some kind.
. . . . they gave out of love to me. And that was—and continues to be—part of my healing.
I have been blessed by many demonstrations of extravagant love in this area by people who gave when they didn’t know if they had anything left over to give. And they gave out of love to me. And that was—and continues to be—part of my healing.
I bring this point up not to lay blame or guilt anyone, but as a small reminder we are the people who are called to love one another. And where or with whom we invest our time and energy bears witness to where our true treasure lies.
Love is the greatest gift we have been given to share. It is also the primary witness of the Kingdom of God to the world—how we love one another. And it begins with simple things like taking the time to listen when someone is truly hurting and their response to “How are you?” may not fit inside your expectation for the day.
Ralph Malone says
It really is almost a rhetorical question these days. So is a major response, “fine”. I had an interaction with a customer years ago, and Neither of us was feeling great about ourselves apparently, and that opened an unexpected fellowship when we both said fine to each other. She told me an acronym that I got a real kick out of. Fine stands for f#%&@% up, insecure, neurotic, and envious lol.
Good article, we need to try to stay real even when it’s messy, though there is a time and place for everything.