Humanity is in great need of a certain phrase to die a swift, complete death.
I’ve said this. You’ve said this. We’ve all said this. But it is time to stop.
Where did this de facto response to “How are you?” originate? I looked up the definition to the word “fine” in the Dictionary and had to get 16 variations deep before this word is defined in the context of describing our emotional, physical or spiritual state. Yet, somehow, this is how we most often respond to a question of the heart.
Perhaps there is the deeper, root cause to this issue. While “How are you?” should always be a question of the heart, it too has become a clichéd thing we ask each other out of a less than sincere posture. Another topic for another time….
However, there are many instances where well-meaning, sincere people ask another person “How are you?” and that act of vulnerability deserves a more thoughtful, specific response than the lifeless “I’m fine.” (Even, and especially, if that response is gritty and in your face. At least it says something.)
Scripture tells us to rejoice with each other in our joys, and to suffer with each other in our pain (1 Corinthians 12:26; Romans 12:15; Philippians 2:18). If you tell me you’re “blessed” I have a real sense of where your heart is, and I can enter into that place of rejoicing with you. If you tell me you’re “shitty” (or worse…) I immediately know that it is time to pray, and be present with you, and listen, and get down in the dirt with you to suffer with you in ministering to your trouble. (I’m a big boy. I can handle the realness of that. And sometimes, a word like that is as real as it gets).
I can do something with blessed (one end of the spectrum).
I can do something with shitty too (the extreme other end).
Fine? Can’t do nuthin’ with that.
Can we just start being honest with each other?
Instead of mindlessly asking each other “How are you?” like it’s obligatory, let me suggest 2 alternatives:
- Don’t ask at all…OR
- “How’s your heart?”
And please, let us set down the expression “I’m fine” and never pick it up again. Let’s instead be real – even if real right at that moment looks and feels, well…shitty.