“Hi, how are you?”
One simple question rarely answered honestly.
You never know whether to tell the truth or just settle for “fine” or “tired” which gets the job done in the four seconds allotted while walking past the person who just asked that question.
Sometimes in the trenches of life, we as people get so self absorbed that being asked or offering the “how are you” question is more out of forced social habit than actual interest.
The other day I was pondering this question and I realized how not fine my life is right now. (Details here are needless but let’s just say the last six months of my life haven’t exactly been the best.)
This is just one of those seasons in life that isn’t easy. Overarching life circumstances aren’t great right now, but I do know that it is going to be okay and I’m trusting God to take care of it and all of life’s difficulty.
Despite the difficulty I have been facing, I had an entirely separate revelation.
Lately, I have been feeling as if I walk through life from day to day, class to class, and see and talk to people and it just feels as if everyone else is fine and normal and their lives are going on as usual while mine feels like it is crumbling from the inside out. (May I remind you here this is not entirely true and is more emotional exaggeration than actual reality.)
The point of this revelation came when I realized how we often go through life intersecting with people but not allowing those interactions to effect our life. Moreover, we don’t have connections with people that amount to anything with real substance.
I realized in my self-pity, my-life-is-so-hard whining moment that maybe someone else’s life is harder than mine. Maybe there is some person I passed on the sidewalk between classes today that is struggling with some big thing or even just lots of little things and has it rough right now.
Maybe someone lost a parent or grandparent recently. Maybe they are overwhelmed with school because they are having trouble adjusting to their spring schedule. Maybe they are sad and lonely living so far away from home.
But how would I ever know that?
How could I get out of my own self-absorbed bubble if I never realize it isn’t about me?
How could I help if I never ask?
How can I know what is going on with someone important to me if my “how are you’s” don’t really mean that I actually want to know how that person is doing?
I’m not sure where it is in the Bible but there is verse that basically says let your yes be yes and your no be no. I think we should add let your “how are you’s” mean “how are you?”
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”