Lately my mom and I do a lot of laughing when we first start a phone call. Maybe not so much laughter as wry chuckling. Why?
"How are you?" or some similar question is a natural opening line in a phone conversation.
The problem is that lately the answer ranges from "meh" to almost tears.
Some seasons are just rough.
We have this mistaken image of people that if they aren't bleeding or bruised or bandaged up, they must be fine.
If they aren't crying or raging or whatever-ing as an outward show of emotion things must be a-ok.
Why is that?
Real grief... despair... hurt... anger... whatever-ing makes most of us uncomfortable!
Sometimes it has to be "ok" to not be "ok."
Back forever long ago in this season I started using the phrase "sit in the suck."
I used it for my friends/family who could really let me actually be the mess that I was at that time.
I will never forget standing in the back of church one Sunday and being asked if I was doing alright by one of these friends.
I, out of habit, said I was fine.
She looked straight at me and said "really?"
No. I was not fine. Bless her for calling me on it.
We are quick to need people to move on when they are hurt. This is a fast paced world where information gallops up and past us before we even really digest it. Actual grief and suffering is highly inconvenient.
It's why some celebrities who have been dead for 10 years constantly get re-dead on Facebook. Poor Bob Denver... RIP - but yeah 2005.
I had a point, I swear.
Ah - we need to be the people who can help others move on by sitting in the suck for a while.
It is ok to be a total mess. Don't stay there. But if you never let yourself actually go there, you also will never fully be ok again.
Talk to people and then really listen. Don't take "fine" at face value. We are way too busy when we never actually take time to hear what is behind that "fine."
We are in a big mess in this world. I really believe that a lot of it comes from the habit we all have of talking past people, talking at people, and scoring points at other's expense. We have talking points instead of relationships. We have stands instead of friends. We are right. You are wrong. Unfriend me if you don't like it...
We must be "quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry," (James 1:19).
Stop. Sit with me here for a minute. Step away from your social media and go BE somewhere. Read a book to a senior adult who lives alone. Help someone with their groceries, just because you can. See that mother whose kid is pitching a fit for whatever reason. Solidarity nod to her and hey, can you help?
Or just listen. Ask someone how they are and really listen for their answer.
And that person - the one you can't stop thinking about right now - they NEED you to BE for them. They need you to hear them and not be thrown by their hurt, or bad news, or anger.
We have each other. We should always have each other's backs. We are all in this together.
Please make it ok for someone to be a not ok mess today.