I wonder whose idea it first was that the appropriate response to the question “How are you?” is the single-word answer “fine.” And thus the downward spiral of turning us all into pathological liars. I mean, seriously, how often are we truly just “fine”?
Every day we are greeted with this question from friendly cashiers, neighbors, servers, friends, acquaintances, and the random weirdo stranger. And yet how rarely do we sincerely answer that question? (Though how rarely do people actually care to know the real answer?)
A few years back, we were going through a hard season as a family, and pretty much everyone knew it. I remember being at church and running into someone whom I would have only considered as an acquaintance. She asked me the above “how are you?” And though I had already positioned the “f” (of “fine”) on my lips, I stopped to sincerely answer that I was not doing well. I don’t remember what else was said in our short exchange but I remember feeling relief that I had not lied with a “fine” (because, clearly, I wasn’t) and had instead chosen to share my burden even if only for a moment.
I feel like maybe I’m “beating a dead horse,” as they say, as I implore you to SHARE. YOUR. STORIES. The good, the bad, the ugly – God can be glorified in all of it! When Adam and Eve were in the garden of Eden and made that first fateful decision to disobey God, what did they do next? They hid. They hemmed fig leaves together to hide their nakedness, their shame, and their sin. (Genesis 3:6-8) Sin only has the power to shame you if it remains hidden.
I feel like maybe “fine” is our proverbial fig leaf. When we’re insecure or ashamed – we’re fine. When we just simply want to save face – we’re fine. When we don’t want to appear proud – we’re fine. When we don’t want to invest the time in the conversation or the relationship – even then we are just simply fine. Relationships are messy. Fine is just easier.
But fine is not where you, or anyone, else will grow. Not any one person can have all experiences so each have to share what we know – for the benefit of others and the glory of God!
So the next time someone asks “how are you?” I dare you to take a step back and think before you genuinely answer. If they didn’t really care to know, then it is their fault for asking! Let’s stop asking questions to which we don’t sincerely care to hear the answer. And let’s reserve “fine” to describe things like: China, dining, and the tip of a marker. None of us is fine. We are all just one hot mess trying our best to live out the lives to which God has called us. Let’s share the load and throw out the fine!