Q. “How should I respond to people who ask me how I’m doing? I don’t want to be false and just say, “Fine” but then again I don’t want to whine or complain to everyone either.” – Robyn
This is a question my sweet new friend Robyn from Zambia asked last week. I thought it would be a great question to answer here, because I’m just guessing you may want to hear the answer, too! So here are my thoughts:
- Thank them for asking.
If someone takes the time to ask how you are doing, I would affirm the person by saying “Thank you so much for asking.” Let’s face it, most of the time people are too busy to ask and care, so if someone is doing both, by all means tell them how much you appreciate their heart.
- Be honest – don’t whine.
You might say, “You know, the truth is, life has been hard,” or “Honestly, I’ve been struggling lately.” This is not whining. It is a fact. But, please don’t stop here. If you do, your caring friend will feel like they have to fix you or they might be sorry they asked in the first place. Nobody wants that, right?
- Point them to a promise.
What you say next can either point them to a promise or turn into a whine-fest. You have an opportunity at this pivotal moment, to pull back the veil of fine and share your heart. You don’t need to preach a sermon, but simply say, “This is what I’m learning…” or “God is teaching me this…” or even, “But this is the promise from His Word I am clinging to…” The temptation here is to focus on ourselves because we like sympathy. But Truth always lifts people up. As you hear yourself telling your friend what God is teaching you, the bonus will be you are reminded and lifted as well.
- Listen to their heart.
A lot of times, when you authentically share your story with someone they will in turn share something with you. They might be struggling too and your words will bless them. Or, they may be drawn into your life and offer to pray for you. Either way, this is true:
“I’ve learned a thing or two during this experience. The first is that when we are winning and life looks good on the outside, people want to be like us. But, when we are honest and share our broken and disappointed places, others strongly connect with us. When we are strongly connected with others, we can find purpose in our struggles like never before. In this honest and connected place we also find a powerful pocket of influence.” Being OK With Where You Are, chapter 3.
I’m not going to tell you this type of real is easy. In fact, the enemy flat out hates this type of talk because your story is a reminder that Jesus is active in your life and you are trusting in Him. The truth is our not OK places have the power to encourage others in their not OK places, too. We simply have to tell be willing to tell them.
Let’s be brave.
Let’s be honest.
Let’s point them to Jesus and His Word.
Find the book, “Being OK with Where You Are” right here.
I have tried lately not to ask that cliche question “How are you?” because almost everyone says “fine” and almost everyone doesn’t mean it. And to be honest half the time we want people to just say “fine” because we care but we don’t have time for much more. So if it’s a quick hello to someone, like in the hall at church, I try to say “It’s good to see you!” If someone asks “how are you?” And I know it’s a passing question, meant to simply be a kind acknowledgement of me, I have started saying, “Dependent on Jesus.” It’s quick. It’s true. And it’s real. I am, so dependent on Him. Love this post, Stacey!
I love that response Lara!
Being true is hard, but being true and using it to point to God, well that is a blessing. I am going to try and be mindful of that from now on. THank you for sharing.
Love this, Stacey! Be honest and point them to the truth–so important!
Well said. This is a perfect response and a truth I need to remind myself of regularly
You recycled this, didn’t you? 🙂 I’ve seen this before from you. Good that you’re using past material to post now. Preaching to the choir now, huh? Pryaing for you!
There was a time in my life I was broken and needed people to hear me. However, I knew not everyone, in fact, very few really wanted to hear my heart. I was bombarded by the question, “How are you?” everywhere I went. The very question almost brought tears to my eyes. During this difficult time when someone asked, “How are you?” I learned to respond with my own question, “Is that a greeting or a question?”. If someone said, “A greeting”, after they gave me a very puzzled look, I responded, “Fine” in the traditional answer to this greeting. If they said, “A question” I would share just enough of my heart to let them know I was struggling, without overwhelming them and ask them to pray for me. This helped me know when to share and when to squelch the tears, smile, and move on.
Oh wow, that’s really good. I’ve often struggled with this very thing. Thank you!
Thank you for writing this, Stacey. I have to remind myself over and over to stop answering with my two favorite words: “fine” or “tired.” It makes me cringe when I do it but I haven’t figured out a way to convey it any other way. I’ve often had this exact conversation with my husband and tell him how much it bothers me that I don’t do a good job of communicating my true feelings to the dozens of people who ask each and every Sunday at church. Nevermind those who run into me during the week when I’m in hectic-working-mommy mode.
I’m writing these down so I can practice speaking truth but following it with a promise. Very inspiring post! Thank you for writing.
Practicing is such a good idea!