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Chris Carpenter
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How Are You Doing?

By Chris Carpenter Program Director - How are you doing? Seriously, how are you? Before you respond with your obligatory “fine”, “good”, or “never been better”, consider how you truly feel. If your present emotional and physical state is good or fine than I commend you for your honesty. But I have a strange suspicion that when asked such a question most people are simply getting by with a stock answer and a smile.

I’m convinced that we live in a nation of empty talkers. It seems we all take part in a culture of pithy clichés designed to remove any semblance of heartfelt emotion in conversation. For every “I’ll Call You” how many calls were actually made? Who actually took it easy after being told to do just that? Encouraged to “take care” how many people actually followed up to make sure you were?

I had never really put a great deal of thought or foresight into this topic until I heard about Mary Winkler, the pastor’s wife who confessed to murdering her husband in Tennessee a few years ago. It was determined that the murder was premeditated; a clear indication the slaying was planned in advance. Several church parishioners indicated they saw no signs of any marital strain between the Winklers. There was no history of domestic violence in the household. In stark contrast, Mary Winkler was obviously deeply troubled by something going on in her marriage. Yet I have to believe that every time she was asked how she was doing at church, the grocery store, or somewhere in between she likely said, “fine”, “good”, or some other derivative thereof. Mary Winkler was undoubtedly wearing a mask of mirth to protect herself from revealing her true emotions.

I must admit that I am rarely as transparent as I should be in my responses to the “how are you doing” question. Rather than explaining how I really feel … that I have been feeling rather stressed out and have a lingering soreness in my right heel, I commonly blurt out to my questioners, “pretty good”, or “I can’t complain”. In reality, I am feeling miserable, lonely, and forlorn.

So why don’t we tell people how we truly feel when we are asked? The simple fact is that it is a lot easier to give a one word stock answer. We know that by saying “not too bad” we will not suddenly be added to the church prayer chain or have the ladies union dropping off casseroles at our house unannounced.

Sometimes inner fears and uncertainties cause us to avoid “speaking out” even when we would like to be more assertive and say a whole lot more. Instead we bottle up our thoughts and words, uttering a catch phrase that we know will suffice even if it is not true. Rather than burden someone else with our problems we take refuge in the safety of saying as little as possible. On the surface, it is just a whole lot easier that way. But is it?

The truth is that if we say one thing but really feel another, we are falsifying our response. Translation: we are lying.

In Leviticus 19:11, it says, “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.”

Popular standards of honesty often differ from what God’s expectations are. The preceding verse is really quite clear as the final phrase states, ‘nor lie to one another’. God demands that we avoid any appearance of dishonesty and that we think, live, and speak truly. His love for us should motivate us to obey Him in all things. Furthermore, His love in us makes obedience possible.

There are many perfectly justifiable reasons for responding with quick, punchy answers when asked how you are doing. But make sure they are accurate. If you feel lousy, say so. What is the worst thing that could happen? Likely, people will be genuinely concerned and offer kind words of encouragement to you.

After all, kind words have the power to heal a wounded heart – gentle words to calm a troubled spirit – loving words to quiet an enraged mind – thoughtful words to guide a searching soul.

We can be mighty in our words if only we are truthful in what we say.

Portions contained within this article from the Transformer Study Bible.

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