“Hi, how are you?”
“Fine, and you?”
Hand shake, hug around the neck, smile and move on.
Sounds about right for a typical Sunday morning encounter at your local church, wouldn’t you say?
The trouble with this type of interaction is it oozes with “fakeness.” It would be real easy for Christians to be satisfied with that blanket response that they will likely get from every person they greet in the congregation. While some people may be just fine, the majority are lying. It’s simpler to say that one little word than it is to be real with people. Our job as ambassadors for Christ is to look beyond that pretty little, plastered on smile and see what’s going on inside the heart.
“Laughter might hide your sadness. But when the laughter is gone, the sadness remains.” (Proverbs 14:13 CEV)
This is why I urge you to pray for discernment when dealing with people within your sphere of influence. Ask the Lord to show you signs of those who may be struggling and to give you the words to make them feel comfortable in opening up. Pray that their hearts would not be hardened by whatever burden they are dragging around but that they’d be receptive to a listening ear and gentle spirit.
It breaks my heart to think of the many who walk around dying inside with the most beautiful smile on their face so no one ever suspects there’s turmoil just under the surface. That’s why I always look at the eyes. It’s the eyes that reveal sorrow and pain or true joy and happiness.
“Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!” (Matthew 6:22-23 The Message)
When you sense in your spirit that the one word response is phony, don’t be afraid to ask again, “Is everything ok?” Sometimes people are giving you a simple answer because they don’t think you truly care but it may be that all it would take is a second time for them to see you are sincerely interested in their well-being.
And for the one who is hiding behind your “I’m fine” smile….stop it. The next time someone expresses genuine concern for you, let them in so that you can quit wilting away on the inside. God doesn’t want you to suffer in silence. We were created to need other people. And it is not a sign of weakness to reach out for help. It takes more courage to seek counsel than it does to “tough it out” alone.
*This is day 14 of our Book of Proverbs study. Won’t you join us?!