How many times in a day are you asked, “How are you doing?”
The answer is probably “fine” more times than you can imagine. I can remember after my son Tyler’s accident up to this very day three plus years later, someone asking me that same exact question, “How are you doing?” Most times I would come back with the answer of “fine.” There were times I didn’t have any feelings or it was just not the right place to really discuss how I felt. So I said “fine.”
God does not expect us to be fine. He reminds us in the verse, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1Thessalonians 5:16. He is waiting for the day we realize we are broken and not fine. He already knows how we are feeling at this very moment. We just keep trying to make ourselves think he doesn’t.
I would define the word “fine” as a place on a scale between 1-10 smack dab in the middle at a 5. It’s neither high nor low, but safely positioned in the middle. When a person says they are “fine” they are playing it safe like the number 5. It could mean they are really not able, ready or want to truly talk about how they feel. Or in some cases they don’t even know how they feel.
I remember many times I would say “fine” and smile. Usually it would end the conversation or it would be a good way to change the direction of it. There were times I didn’t feel anything or I actually didn’t want anyone to know how I felt. I wanted to be strong for my family and myself. I needed to be “fine” so I didn’t have to deal with life. I didn’t want to tell anyone my feelings of hurt, brokenness or sadness. Even on the days when I felt good, I felt bad that I felt good. Even though they asked the question, they didn’t always want to know the answer. Most people were being nice and making conversation. The real answer would make them feel uncomfortable and make for an awkward moment. So to be strong for others, I would avoid the true answer and say “fine.”
It wasn’t until I was sitting by my daughter’s bed trying to make sense of things that changed everything for me. We were talking about how we missed Tyler just a few short days after his accident. The tears started flowing uncontrollably and I remember how I wanted to be strong and not show her how I hurt, but out of nowhere I had this feeling that it was OK. We were both hurting, tears showed we are human and it helped to wash the hurt away.
From that moment on, I realized it was OK to not be fine and strong. I realized tears are part of grief and healing. I know when I cry it helps me to feel better and it feels like it cleans my soul. Once I realized that it was OK to say how I felt and not say “fine” I would answer that question, “How are you doing?” with a different answer. If I started to cry or they don’t know what to say, I kindly said, “It is OK. These are tears of hope.”
I don’t always know what to say either. Honestly a hug and no words are many times the best. I have learned that letting go of being strong tells God I trust that he will take care of everything. Remember, He already knows every little thing about you and how you are feeling this very moment.
Why not let go of being “fine” and let God take over?