A while back I was struggling terribly. I was heartbroken and worried over one of my kids. I remember not wanting to be around people for a short time because I didn't know how to act like everything was normal. Thoughts of how we were going to get through it were near the only thoughts I had.
I plastered a smile on my face anytime I went out into public. I wasn't trying to be fake, it's just that the smile served as a weak dam holding back a flood of emotion. My faking it, I believed, was a grace gift.
Those days conversations dangerously teetered toward my painfully overwhelming those who'd just bargained for small talk. I also risked sharing too much. Just as I wouldn't want my own mistakes broadcasted, it can be a bit irresponsible and unfair to share a loved one's struggles, especially to someone who doesn't know them as fully and wonderfully as I know them.
It was more recently, in another struggle, that I clearly remember being asked the question that often makes me lie.
How are you?
It was after church. I'd gathered my purse and visually located my kids. I was ready to leave, that is, right after speaking to few people who were still at church. I walked to the back of the sanctuary to hug a friend when she asked. It wasn't a greeting, or merely out of habit. With sincerity in her voice she asked, How are you?
The truth was, I wasn't good.
I considered whether I should lie (I'm great) or answer honestly (Well...I near dehydrated myself from crying my eyeballs out this past week. How are you?). A bystander fortunately changed the subject.
I wasn't in the condition to rightly answer that question.
In the grocery store checkout line and in a host of other places, while in passing we ask and are asked the question, How are you? Sometimes it's heartfelt, other times it's a pleasantry. The answer for me is, most of the time, more complicated than small talk can address.
God's truth, the only truth, tells me I'm ok. My family is ok. I do know the truth.
There's also something to be said about honesty.
My life stays swarmed by those underlying peace-robbers, my feelings. Even though God is working in my life, and in my family's life, I still too often find myself anxious, exhausted and crushed.
I'm all for finding a listening ear. I personally believe I have a decent one. If you're suffering through something, I'll listen and I'll care. But before much talking at all goes on between acquaintances and friends we do best to talk and listen to the problem expert, the truth giver...the only one who can mend a hurting heart.
If you're not talking to God about it, it does little good to talk to anybody else about it.
I recently approached that same friend after church, the one whose question I had previously been able to dodge. This time I knew she was struggling. I asked her how she was doing. She simply whispered , "Pray for me". Grabbing her hand and squeezing it we both stayed silent, but communicated everything that was necessary for the moment.
Before having lunch with her later that week, I prayed for her. I'm so thankful for this friend; that our response to the question How are you? can be answered honestly in a thousand pain-filled words... or with silence.
We're learning that the truth to 'how we are' is realized in prayer.
...For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:4
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