Hey, how are you?
Updated: Jun 1, 2020
“Hey, how are you?”
It seems in our culture that is the standard greeting almost anywhere you go, walk into to work, “hey, how are you” – into church, “how are you today” – sit down in a restaurant or walk into a market, the first greeting is always, “how are you doing today” – it is just the standard of hello in our culture. People always smile and say fine or if people are really doing fantastic they may actually say “I am great” but does anyone actually ever just say, “hey you know what I am really shitty, you want to hear about it”? We don’t say that, even if we are falling apart on the inside we say fine and smile and move on. I really feel like that is where we fail, where I fail.
A few days ago, I was asked by a coworker, “how are you”, thinking to myself, I feel terrible, I am sad, I am heartbroken, my mind can focus on nothing but the brokenness I feel, I am overwhelmed, I am stressed out, but instead of saying how I truly felt, I avoided the question, smiled and walked past. Minutes later passing the same person on my way back, I was asked again, “are you doing ok today”? I just broke and said, “you know I am shitty”. The lady looked in shock and said, “you are how”? — I repeated myself, and was offered a lame attempt at comfort, “well we should all be just thankful” – and don’t get me wrong we should be thankful, everyday, no matter the brokenness – but there was no real attempt to see why my reply was what it was, no ask if she can pray for whatever caused me to say that, but should I really expect any more when I would also would not have offered any substantial comfort to someone either.
I feel this is one way we fail as Christians, one way I certainly fail God. God calls us to Bear one another’s burdens, thereby fulfill the law of Christ – Galatians 6:2 – but do we do that? When we ask someone how they are doing do we really want the nitty gritty, the sadness, brokenness and despair, or are we hoping that a fine, great, or other sufficient one word answer happens so we can move on and not have to bear a burden with that person? I know I usually hope to just hear the typical “fine”. I know if I was responded to with the true weight of their burden I would have no idea how to respond, would I stop and offer to pray with them, probably not, would I offer some sort of generic comfort statement and move them along, probably. This, this is where I fail God, I fail Him by not offering to help with the burden, I fail Him by not loving people as He loves me. I counted 99 passages in the bible in which God calls us to love and care for one another as He loves and cares for us…99 times! There certainly maybe more since I am neither a Theologian or biblical scholar, but to me 99 times is plenty to get my attention that that God wants us to LOVE, He wants us to CARE, and he wants our hearts to break for what breaks His.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. – John 13:34-35
It is a rare occasion that someone actually offers me more than a “fine”. I think people don’t offer more because it has become such an automatic response, and because they are unsure and fearful of the reply, will they get a weird look, or a generic comfort that has as little meaning if they actually open up and say, “you know, today I am broken”. I am going to challenge myself that next time someone actually says to me, “you know things could be better”, I am going to ask questions, I am going to seek their heart, I am going to LOVE as God loves, because I know if the lady had done that for me in my weakness and pain, maybe I would have found some strength in her display of love.