Lately, life has been teaching me who’s boss. I like to think I’m pretty strong and have been able to navigate life’s curveballs with minimal damage…but lately, wooooo! The curveballs have gotten faster, more vicious, more personal, and more consistent. Being a believer, I know it’s because I’ve been working hard to use the gifts God’s given me. So naturally, the enemy is not a happy camper. And after all, he only attacks things he considers a threat. 😉 Despite knowing that, it doesn’t negate the fact that some of these hits have knocked the wind right out of me. And even worse, I don’t always feel like I have time to recoup from the last hit before the next one comes barreling toward me. It’s overwhelming and frustrating, lonely and painful, and sometimes the only thing I want is for someone to really hear me and remind me that it’ll all be ok. Even though, on the inside, I already know it will be. Romans 8:28.
How are you?
One of life’s niceties. A usually empty salutation that means less for the ‘asked’ as it does for the image of the ‘asker’. And if you’re honest, it’s rare that a person genuinely wants or expects to hear a true answer.
As of late, I’ve realized a difference in the way I feel when I respond to that question. It’s usually some variation of “I’m, fine, thanks” because it’s how we’ve been trained to answer. It’s common, easy, and sometimes, a lie. But it would be weird to answer with the truth, right? No one really wants to know the real answer, right? Right, Jess…just say you’re fine and keep it moving!
So, in my infinite ridiculousness, on some random Wednesday, I decided to answer that question truthfully.
I vowed that the next person to ask “How are you”, I’d answer with the truth – or at least part of it. And I did. It was uncomfortable…for both of us. We didn’t particularly know each other, we’d never even exchanged first names and had no idea about each other’s backgrounds. Just two people who frequently saw each other and made small talk about little things when time presented itself.
Dear Random Dude,
I’m sorry. You were clearly at the wrong place at the right time asking the right question and wound up falling victim to a well needed semi-meltdown and became an intricate piece of my case study. Although you looked uncomfortable and I’m sure you wanted to run, you handled it well. You rock.
Good ol’ Kimmy (in the GIF abover) is a slight over-exaggerated version of what ‘Random Dude’ was subjected to. There were no tears – only because I was holding them back – but there was a bit of hand flailing and ugly-facing as I explained “I’m actually not ok. There’s waaaaay too much going on and I’m legit overwhelmed”. And to my surprise, he didn’t run away. He said, “I’m sorry. Anything I can do to help?”. I told him there wasn’t but he’d already done plenty just by being a sorta-stranger willing to show genuine concern. It was therapeutic to be honest and feel some kind of verbal embrace just in a 30 second conversation with someone who knew nothing – or very little – about me.
This was a few months ago and since then, there were about three others who fell victim to my shenanigans. Two, however, didn’t respond quite as graciously. They weren’t mean, just completely unconcerned. And another one that purged right along with me.
While the curveballs are still coming, I’m learning – it’s ok to not be ok all the time…and it’s alright to be honest about it. There are people, even strangers, who care enough offer help or just and ear. And surprise, surprise…there are others who are feeling the same (or similar) stresses and hurts – I’m not alone.
So, readers…if you’re the “asked” – it’s ok to answer truthfully. There are still good people in the world who will slow down and show compassion. While I don’t recommend you to purge to just anybody, be ok admitting you’re not always ok. To the “asker” – be willing to hear someone’s truth if they’re willing to share it. Hey, technically…you asked for it! You’d be surprised how healing just listening could be…for the both of you.