How often do you try to hide how you are really doing from others?
When someone asks you how you're doing. do you always answer with "fine"? Or do you let other people know when you're not fine? And when things are really good?
In the last couple of weeks, I've been a part of a few conversations about how we so often don't let others in. We keep the things that are really going on in our lives to ourselves and share them with nobody.
We know we shouldn't do that. We know it's not good to do that. But we seem to struggle to find a place to share those things.
The question, "How are you?" has become a passing greeting with no real intent of hearing how someone is doing. And I think we're suffering for it.
I'm someone who is good at hiding - except for from those closest to me. But to your average person, if I don't want you to know things are anything less than perfect in my life, you'll have no idea. It's a "skill" I've spent many years practicing. But it's not one I want to continue in my life.
That brings me to my next question: How do we change this? Is there something we can do to change this way of thinking and answering questions about how we're doing?
I would say there is. I have some friends who challenged me on this in my own life. And while I still hide in plain sight from people at times, I have learned and am continuing to learn how to stop doing this.
It's been almost eight years since I first headed off to Bible college and entered the reality of dorm life. At that point in my life, I always told people outside of my family that life was good . . . great . . . even if things were anything but. I could put up the facade of the good Christian life well and that's exactly what I did.
Except when you're going to be living in a dorm with 22 other people and sharing a room with one of them for eight months, you realize very quickly you can't live that way. I did try . . . for about a month. And I was tired at the end of that first month from that.
But, I had a couple of friends in my dorm who didn't seem content to just let me keep living that way. They would ask me how I was doing and I would answer "fine" and they would ask me if I really was fine. They never pushed beyond that if I didn't want to go there, but the simple question of "are you really fine?" made me stop and think. And over time, they played a role in breaking that wall down.
I realized that maybe never telling people how I was really doing, wasn't the best way to live. And these friends from Bible college didn't just push me on how I answered that question, they were honest about their own lives and made it a safe place in conversation with them for me to share what was really going on.
So, I know that it is true that we can change the tendency we may have to hide in plain sight. We can learn to stop hiding, at least with certain people.
And it starts with me. And you.
We have to start. Start small.
With people we already have some basis of a relationship with, start asking how they're really doing. Let them know you care about the truth. Rather than being satisfied with the generic "fine" create a place where they feel safe to share how they're really doing, by being honest about how you're really doing.
You don't have to go into all the detail to let people know your life isn't perfect. But by sharing a bit, you can open the door for them to do the same. And the change slowly begins to happen.
We stop hiding in plain sight.
Something I wrote a few years ago seems a fitting way to end this blog. I can't think of better words to use to say this:
So, all this has got me thinking about how good we, as the church, have gotten
at hiding. Think about it for a moment . . . how many people sitting around you
in a church service are really doing "fine" even though that's what they tell
people . . . probably fewer than would admit it to someone else. We live in a
culture that prides itself on being self-sufficient individuals and we don't
want help from others with anything.
But, this journey that we are on as
followers/disciples of Christ was not meant to be made alone. We were created to
live in real community with one another. The kind of community that comes when
we give people permission to really enter the mess that our lives are - when we
allow them to be a part of our struggles, of our battles with sin, of our
sorrows, of our joys. This doesn't happen when we hide behind a facade at
church. This happens when we honestly answer the "How are you?" question. When
we say that we are not doing very well, if that's the truth. When we say that we
are doing well, if that's the truth.
Obviously, we don't have to pour out
our entire life story to every person in the church. But, we need to stop being
afraid of being real - of being honest about where we're at. All this hiding
really does us no good. It causes us more harm because we're left to deal with
everything on our own and sometimes it's just too big for us to carry it all on