Monday, March 28, 2011

Part 2: “How Are You . . . Really?”

Recently I commented on our habit of asking people, “How are you?”, without really expecting – or desiring – a truthful answer. But when you have someone who refuses to accept a simple “Fine,” and invites or even insists that you respond with a complete and open answer, that’s a gift.

Fortunately I’ve had friends willing to look me in the eye and ask, “How are you…really?” For them, “Fine,” or “I’m okay” were non-answers and unacceptable. They were willing to devote the time and energy necessary to listen patiently. That spoke volumes.

In our instant, microwave, gotta-have-it-now society, few people are inclined to wonder how others are doing. But we all desperately need someone who values us enough to do just that. We can be surrounded by hundreds or thousands, yet feel totally alone unless we know someone cares for us – genuinely cares for our soul.

It’s been my privilege to mentor a number of men, and one of my questions always concerns how they are doing – looking straight at them so they know I want a full, honest response. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” How can we “sharpen” one another if we’re afraid to rub rough edges together?

Another passage, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, states, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!... Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

A key for survival in this complex, uncaring world is to reject the lone-ranger, all-by-myself mentality. God designed us for relationship. Near the dawn of creation He conceded, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18).

So if you don’t already have someone, find at least one individual willing to ask, “How are you?” and await your answer. And try to be that kind of person for someone else. You just might – to paraphrase Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” – make their day.

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