We want to ask you a serious question? What's happening inside of you? No...not physically (even though that is important). I mean, really, what is going on in your heart and mind?
Maybe let us rephrase the question to something that you hear, and ask, all the time...HOW ARE YOU? If you just said to yourself, "I'm fine," then let us tell you a story.
A couple years ago, the two of us met randomly at a Shreveport Mudbugs hockey game (yes, Shreveport/Bossier has hockey, and they are pretty legit, too). Fast forward to a booth at a local restaurant and over a plate of bacon and eggs, a conversation started off with that same question. Keep in mind, we didn't really know each other that well yet. We were't working together yet. We were, at best, acquaintances. Let's just say that the conversation that happened after that led us both to begin to understand the inherent danger with answering the "How are you doing" question with a passive "Fine".
Truth be told, that question is an ice breaker and has kind of become just a greeting. Sometimes, we really don't mean what we're asking. And most of the time, the person on the other end knows that and their "I'm fine" is just as meaningless.
In this breakfast meeting, however, we chose to press in. Midway through, the "I'm fines" that both of us shared were shattered by the fact that neither one of us were really fine.
A couple hours later when we left, the things that we brought to the table with us that were buried deep inside bogging down our hearts and minds were laid out all over the place, yet still held in the confidence and trust of two adult men who chose vulnerability over the appearance of strength.
We both would agree that this moment in time was when our friendship began, and when we learned (by experience) the sheer power found in just looking someone in the face and being honest. While it just kind of happened, we also chose to allow it to happen...
- We created a space (breakfast meeting)
- We paid attention.
- We left room for the generic greeting to turn into a conversation.
- We pressed in to signs that the other person was not fine.
- We opened our mouths.
- We talked.
- We kept each others confidence.
That day, we became friends. That day, because of vulnerability, we began to share each other's weight. That day, had we been okay with "I'm fine", then those two words could have rewritten the past three years.
Wherever you are today, let us challenge you to begin practicing two things:
1. Slow down and allow room for a real answer when you ask someone how they are doing.
2. Refuse to answer "How are you doing" with "I'm fine."
We put a lot of emphasis on the fact that the F-bomb is a pretty harsh word to use. However, let us present this fact to you: The word "Fine," when it's attached to a mask that you are using to cover up real hurt and pain, even if it's a subconscious response, is extremely dangerous. We are challenging ourselves, and we want to challenge you to this as well. Eliminate the word FINE from your vocabulary when you are talking about how you are doing. And when you hear someone say they are fine, slow down, and take a second and press in. Their healing, your healing, and what may end up being one of the closest friendships life has to offer, is waiting on the other side of the words "How are you."
-Eric and Trey