"Hi, how are you?... I mean, how are you really?
'Hi, how are you?' has become a passing comment, a formality, perhaps no-one actually wants to know how people really are. Do we answer this question with 'fine' because we are fine or because we think that is what people want to hear from us? Has this become just a way to be socially polite?
A few days ago I was discussing a similar topic with some friends. It was a very brief conversation. Once the topic had been brought up and everyone realised that people mostly don't care (or are too scared to know) how people truly are doing, the topic was quickly changed into something more light-hearted.
On Day 3 during a recent stay in Tresillian I offhandedly told a nurse that I was suffering from panic attacks (causing chest pains, numbness, tingles, struggling to breathe & exhaustion). The nurse was flabbergasted and quite literally couldn't find words to respond. She couldn't believe that I could hold myself together enough for her not to notice that I was actually not doing okay (had been in the business for 30 odd years). I however had originally said that I was 'fine' and my body and facial expressions told her that I was 'fine'. I then had a flock of nurses (who had cared for us over the last three days) come and tell me the same thing- that they couldn't believe 'Cool, calm Katie' was struggling.
So... my point is this, do we really care about how people really are? And do we actually tell the truth when we respond to this question? And of course, yes, your answer probably does depend on who asks the question. But I should have said that I wasn't fine when the nurses asked me at Tresillian. But I didn't. I lied. Why? I didn't want to appear 'weak'. And I still don't. I like to think I am holding it together. But it does take courage and strength to ask for help. To admit that you need help shows that you are human. We are not perfect. (If you wanted a conclusion to that story... I saw the therapist at Tresillian who felt compelled to ring my GP *drama* and I am having little check-ups with him to make sure that I am coping better and have the panic attacks under control)
Personally it doesn't scare me to know how others are truly doing. What a wonderful way it can be to serve others by helping them through a tough time- especially through prayer (and hot meals!). I am challenging myself to think more about this and really tune in to the response to 'how are you?' so that I can pick up on underlying comments or the message behind the answer.
So my question to you today is... how are you?
Did you just hear me? My real question...
How are you really?