A Life Stirred


on September 29, 2013

We’ve got a problem.

Or more accurately, our fast-paced, always-on-the-go, constantly-over-stimulated culture has a problem.  (It probably has more than one problem, actually.)

We don’t really listen to each other anymore.  We ask our friends a question and then move on before they’ve even responded.

What?  You don’t think you do that?  I bet you do.  I bet you do without even thinking about it.

Case in point:  It’s Saturday night at church.  (Yes, I go to church on Saturday night.  So liberating for this night owl.)  As you make your way to your seat (the same one you sit in every week), you pass about 20 people you know, and you have the exact same conversation with every. single. one of them.  “Hi!  How are you?”  “Good. How are you?”  “Good.”  Conversation done.  Move on.

Talk about a riveting and meaningful conversation, right?

Have you ever tried to actually answer that question in a real way?  Just this weekend, a sweet lady at church asked how Claire was doing.  A very kind, thoughtful question.  I responded, “She’s good.  She has a cold right now, so it’s been a little rough lately.”

Except I wasn’t able to even get out that whole response before the sweet lady had moved on.  Two sentences, and I lost her after the first one.

See, the problem is she didn’t really want to hear the truth.  She wanted to oooh and aaaah over the adorable baby, hear that things were going well, and move on.

Wnd why wouldn’t you want to oooh and aaah over this adorable baby?!  (Yes, that is a Bible next to her...she's that advanced.)

And why wouldn’t you want to oooh and aaah over this adorable baby?!  I understand the temptation.

And really, I didn’t expect much more from the woman.  I’ve been guilty of the exact same thing.  This kind of conversation happens all the time.  We ask “How are you doing?”, but we don’t stop to listen to the response.

We don’t even expect a real response.  Because imagine if someone just dumped how they’re really doing on you after that question.  You’d probably smile and back away slowly.  Being really real is just not what we do in our culture.  We say “good” regardless of whether or not it’s true.

BUT God calls us, as Christians, to be different, to stand out.  They’ll know we are Christians by our love, right (John 13:35)?

What better way to show love than to care about how others are doing?!  I mean, I know I’d feel loved if you asked me how I doing and then waited for (and required) a real answer.  And I suspect you are probably the same way.

So, as this new week starts, why don’t we give listening a whirl?  Next time you ask someone how they’re doing, find out how they’re really doing.  Support them.  Encourage them.  Hey, you could even get real crazy and pray for them!  (Whaaaaat?!  Is that even allowed?!?  Yes.  It is.  Even if you’re in Walmart, blocking the chip aisle.)

It probably won’t be easy.  You’ll probably have to go through a round or two of howareyougood before you get to the real stuff.  You might even have to go with a “How are you really doing?” and a meaningful look and head tilt.  But it’ll be worth it.  And I suspect we’ll find that our friendships grow deeper and community is sweeter because we took the time to listen.


2 responses to “howareyougood

  1. Marcie says:

    I absolutely love the way you write Carley!! I’ve occasionally answered this question with “do you want the real answer . . .or just the standard one?” . . . but only with people I know well. My heart’s desire is to be real . . . but that desire often doesn’t get carried out. This is a good reminder.

  2. amoss687 says:

    My brother needs to take the advice and be one that listens…to EVERYTHING. He’s one that will go on and on and on and others will actually listen, but he’s also the one that’ll tune you out after the first sentence.

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