Friday, August 23, 2013

Faithful Friday: How Are You?

In a typical day of coming and going, I wonder how many times the phrase, “How are you?” is used.
Maybe it’s a regional thing but, around here, it’s customary for those three words to follow, “Hello!”

It is certainly a habit for me and one I found myself trying to break after losing Austin. I didn’t want someone to respond back with the inquiry because saying I was “good or fine” seemed wrong. Because I wasn’t.
And really what kind of response would I give? 

For a long time, I either avoided contact with someone I was afraid would make me cry, by darting down another aisle in the store or appearing distracted, or, I was quick to be first to start the conversation.

“Hey, it’s good to see you…..what are you up to….beautiful weather today, huh?”
Anything to keep the focus off of me.

Time heals wounds like these and after awhile, at least with social pleasantries, life went back to normal.

Swirling with the chaos of said life the past couple of months, I’ve thought a lot about that phrase. We say it without even thinking. Most people are just on auto-pilot. You speak, I speak, we smile and go on.

On the rare occasion someone has an unexpected answer, it throws us off kilter.
Things like, "better than I deserve" or "I'm here" or "I'm still breathing" stalls us for a moment, as we wonder how to respond back. Sometimes, the other person will go into a long-winded story about whatever is going on in their life. Or they’ll throw me for a loop mentioning something personal I forget I shared on social networking and I’ll be standing mid-sentence trying to assess if they’re stalking me, have bugged my house, or wondering if I should know them better than I think I do.

But most of the time people just don’t care. Or maybe we’re all just to busy to care.

I realized this week though how good it feels when people really. do. care.
When those three little words are said with sincerity in anticipation of an honest answer. And there’s love there. It’s welcoming, like coming home to the scent of dinner simmering on the stove. It draws you in and says, "this is a safe place. I can share here."

As I sat on the back row at church this Wednesday, I scanned the room and counted my blessings. Even in the midst of this minor hiccup in life, I can see so many reasons to be thankful in the sea of friendly faces among the pews. From my pastor, to friends I've known for years, to new friendships,there are countless gifts God has given me in sending our family to this church.

From my view, I found myself lifting those faces up to Him in prayers of thanksgiving and in asking his blessings upon them. After service, without fail, those trusted friends came over with hugs and words of encouragement, along with those three little words. And they truly wanted to know. With a grateful sigh, I unloaded all my baggage from the week, let go, and let God work through them.

 "The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense." Proverbs 27:9 

Yet, it's also made me more conscious of my own shortcomings. How many missed opportunities do I let pass by in trading pleasantries for deep conversation? Am I failing God by not making myself available to hear about someone's day more in depth?

 It isn't because I don't care. Personality traits, being the introvert I am, dictate a lot of it.

But His gentle Spirit has been stirring within me as of late, reminding with a loving push to step out beyond my boundaries more often. To let Him work through me and to let others be on the receiving end of a meaningful, "How are you?"

 My dear sweet friends and loyal readers, I begin with you. I'd love to hear how your week has been. What's pulling at your heart today? Do you need a friend or just someone to vent to? share with? Come sit beside me and tell me about your day. It's my honor to pray for you.

 With love (and JOY)...


Anonymous said...

Just a note to let you know I'm praying a new window opens.

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