Right now, it is difficult to smile. I praise God, as I know He is good. He wants good for me and is not a malicious father. So how to handle the greetings when I am out and about? Usually we have a pleasant greeting where we say something like, “Hi, how are you?” We are not really asking about a person’s well-being, rather we are simply a nice way to start a conversation. I find myself using this greeting with anyone, even a person I am just passing by. A good, “hey, how are you?” and a slight head raise helps to fill the awkward gap between eye contact and walking past the person I will never see again. Of course, the only possible response is, “good, and you?” Neither of us are really concerned with each other’s mental or physical state. It is the socially acceptable answer in all situations. So today, I am ok with the surface level stuff. But I shouldn’t be. I should care more about others than how I am feeling.
Unfortunately, this dance of pleasantries is the same for strangers and close friends. With the end result of us never really knowing the other person’s condition. In our fast paced, always too much on my plate culture, we do not have time to really stop and find out how the other person is doing. So we look to social media to get that kind of update. Even though we know social media only shows a shadow of the real health of the person. It is the most expedient form of keeping tabs on friends.
I am reminded of a day I that was not great, but had a great outcome because I didn’t let my feelings get in the way. I was in the office one day and for some reason it was super quiet. Most of the employees were on vacation or out of the office. As I took a break to get some coffee, I noticed another person in an otherwise empty floor. I knew the person, but had never really stopped and spoken with them. When I saw them I said the obligatory greeting and they responded with the obligatory response. This day I intentionally asked the question a second time. I said, “really, how are you?” with a stress on the question. Ann was taken back a little bit. When she saw I meant the question, she opened up that she was having some difficulties. I got to know more about her in the few minutes that she shared than I had the previous three years.
Ann’s willingness to open up allowed me the opportunity to pray for her. It turned out she also had a faith and was so encouraged to have a co-worker pray for her. This interaction revealed a desire many have to be known and share their burdens. Too many of us don’t stop long enough to listen to each other. If you ask the question a second time, you will find most people willing to open up just a little bit. It is thought that door where Jesus can minister to that person. I have seen great results with servers, airline attendants, retail workers, as well as friends. Go ahead, take some extra time to really find out how someone is doing and watch how God works. Even on your worst day, you will end up feeling better.