Person one: “Hi, how are you?”
Person two: “I’m fine, how are you?”
Person one: “I’m fine, thank you.”
Person one and two: Depart and go about their days
How often have you had this exact conversation with someone? Like the rest of us, it’s likely been so many times that you couldn’t count them if you wanted to.
How it is that being “fine” has become our standard greeting with each other? This greeting has become so customary that we simply state it without thinking about it. And it means so little anymore. Often we even move so quickly through this small talk that someone could say they are fine, yet have tears in their eyes, and we wouldn’t notice.
All of us seem to be fine all of the time. But we are not. Sometimes we are broken, offended, depressed, hurt, sick, and sometimes so completely shattered that we are barely hanging on. Urban dictionary say’s “I’m fine” is “one of the biggest white lies anyone could say.”
Another way of saying “I’m fine” might be “I’m doing great.” Have you been doing great the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times you’ve answered with “fine?” In this drive-thru, microwave, ATM, Twitter world, we often move so fast that we fail to stop and really pay attention to the person right in front of us … or even to ourselves.
I totally understand there are times when it may not be the right time or even appropriate to dump all of our problems on someone. We could be in a professional setting where it wouldn’t be prudent to break down in tears. Or we think that if we share our issues it will look like we are weak simply seeking sympathy. Maybe we don’t want to admit to others that something is wrong. And surely a complete stranger on an elevator would feel totally out of place if we started crying out of the blue.
Yes, there are times when we really are doing great. Yet, when we aren’t, when would it be appropriate to share what’s going on with someone else and seek advice, counsel, prayer, or even just a listening ear?
I don’t mean to be pointing the finger because I am as guilty of this as anyone. There have been times I was really struggling, even holding back tears, when friends, even family, have asked how I am and guess how I responded. You got it. I said “I’m fine” … although I was nowhere close to doing great.
One of the best lessons I’ve learned through my Joneses Journey is the more deeply, authentically, and intimately I communicate with someone, the more that person feels safer to reciprocate in the same way with me. And the resulting conversations mean so much more than simply talking about the weather, sports, or shopping.
So now I take more risks in getting to truly know the people in my life. As each day passes, I have less and less time in this one life I’ve been given. I don’t know how much time I have but I sure don’t want to spend any of it in superficial conversations with family, friends, clients, or others that I know well.
What about you? Are you ready to take some risks (small ones at first) and actually get to know that person at church that you’ve been sitting in the same row with for a year or that co-worker just three cubicles away? I can promise that you will not regret stepping out if you do so in an appropriate, loving, and sincere way.
Blessings on your continuing journey,
Author | Speaker | Coach