How are you? Fine, thanks. And you?

A dangerous interaction?

This is a common greeting exchange when we meet friends and acquaintances.  It is usually seen as a courtesy; we give and receive this exchange without really thinking about how to respond or the response we receive.  In many situations, this is a good and appropriate response.  However, in other situations it can be a dangerous interaction, hindering spiritual and relational growth for all parties involved!

We all go through times when we are not “fine”.  We may be feeling overwhelmed with language learning, loneliness, or raising children in a foreign land.  We may be discouraged by a felt lack of effectiveness in our calling.  We may be struggling to deal with local spiritual or physical conditions: either chronic societal conditions or those related to recent unrest in the region.  There can be a temptation to keep such concerns to ourselves.  We don’t want to spread the gloom to others.  We don’t want to appear to be lacking faith.  We may feel others don’t have the time to listen.

Share one another’s burdens

However, scripture implores us to “share one another’s burdens.”  There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors.  We are called to honesty; there is freedom in the truth.  God calls us to live in community, and community is built as people honestly and openly share from their heart.  This is a gradual process and done with discretion concerning when and to whom we share, but it is a much needed process in our lives.  We need a listening ear to express and process what is inside ourselves.  Keeping things hidden and in the dark gives the enemy a foothold in our lives.  We all need godly insight, support, and encouragement when we are down, overwhelmed, or need to make significant decisions.  We need each other!  How can we support needs we don’t know about?

Consider sharing

The next time someone asks you “How are you?” consider sharing a bit of your challenges as well as your successes.  This also gives the other person permission to share something that may be heavy on their heart.  If the time and place don’t seem right for deeper discussion, try suggesting getting together in the next few days for coffee and to share and pray for each other.