The Christian “F” Word

13 06 2013

Barely making eye contact, Johanna* quickly looked past me as I entered the building and asked, “How are you?”

Slowing down a bit, I responded, “I’m dying of cancer.”

She never batted an eye. “Oh, that’s nice, dear.”

Really?

(I’m not dying of cancer – just so you know!)

This was part of an experiment I’ve been running, curious to see how people would respond. Most of the time, when folks ask “How are you?” they’re doing the “polite” thing. Very few actually give a rip.

On the street, polite disinterest is to be expected. When I find the sense of “don’t bother me with the details, just give me the standard answer” among my church family members, I am saddened. Because we have the “mind of Christ,” His tender-hearted care must be evident, one would think.

My goal is to become genuine. Therefore, if I don’t care, I don’t want to ask! (…and there are some whom I don’t ask. They wallow in their woes – and like it that way. I’m not being harsh – I used to be one of them!)

Sometimes, though, it’s not the “asker’s” fault…

With a face so long she could have stepped on it, a Christian sister entered the foyer on Sunday.

“Hi, Claire*! How’s it going?” I asked, genuinely concerned.

Then she dropped the bomb…the Christian “F” word…

Fine,” said with a plastic smile.

“Wait, Claire. Let me try this again…How is your soul?”

What came next left me astonished. She Β unloaded the saddest story I’d heard in a while.

By the time she was finished, she was in tears, and so was I.

“Whoa! Let’s talk to our Father about this,” I said, and led her to a quiet corner.” I prayed for her, and then we went into the sanctuary for worship.

By the time church was over, her plastic smile was replaced with a real one. She gave my hand a squeeze and whispered, “Thanks.”

Nothing had changed about Claire’s circumstances, but she’d been given the opportunity to have someone come alongside and bear the burden with her.

(*These are not their real names.)

The question we ask makes a huge difference. I have yet to be given the “F” word when I ask a person, “How’s your soul?” Every time, they stop and think about it. The replies have been everything from “My soul is good,” or “To be honest, I’ve been cranky lately,” to “I’m not doing well at all. I’m about ready to give up.”

Try it for yourself…but only if you’re prepared to invest time in others!

How often we miss an opening to encourage one another when we ask the “standard” question, “How are you doing?”

…and how many times we let the chance to have someone lift us up in prayer or be strengthened by someone when we respond to this routine question with…

…the Christian “F” Word!

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53 responses

5 07 2013
Jass

First off, I love the title of this posting. It really draws you in…I too loved your post. Years ago, I attended a Bible study where the minister talked about really taking the time to see how people are doing. She said a lot of times we’ll ask them how they’re doing without so much as making eye contact.

Ever since then, I try to be mindful of asking people how they’re doing by making eye contact and staying still to listen to their response; as opposed to walking away before they even respond.

This post only helps to reiterate the importance of taking the time to hear people out. I love rephrasing the how are you with how is your soul…sometimes you gotta go deeper for breakthrough to occur.

Stay Blessed

5 07 2013
lessonsbyheart

The title, I’ve learned, is as important as the body of the post. Without something that arrests one’s attention, good articles get passed by.

Yeah, I love, “how’s your soul” much better. I get more honest responses!

Thanks for your comments.

\o/

27 06 2013
sagescenery

I like your question a lot…it opens up the conversation by showing you’re interested and that you’re encouraging a deeper answer!!

I work with kids, teens, and young adults in our drama team…and I find they’ll talk to me if I rephrase the “how-are-you?” question by saying, “So how’s everything going on in ______’s world??? By inserting their name, they understand that I WANT to know!! I don’t let them get by with just saying “fine!!” If they do answer, “Fine,” I ask more questions…like…”Everything okay at home, school, etc.??? I can usually sense when things are not really “fine!” Praise God!

I loved your post!!

18 06 2013
Heather Marsten

Interesting post – I’ve used the “F” word at times, pretending things are fine when my soul was hurting. Good post. Interesting way to get a person to share.

18 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

The results are amazing, to be sure! Thanks for commenting. πŸ™‚

\o/

18 06 2013
annabachinsky

Wow. This is so good! “Fine” is definitely the Christian “F” word! People hide behind that little word so often. If we only learned that being genuine and vulnerable is where heart to heart connections are made. Everyone knows what it means to not be doing so “fine” (even if they truly are fine at the moment). I think the positive outcomes outweigh the negative one’s by a long shot of opening up and being truthful about what you’re going through. Thanks for sharing this. Be blessed!

18 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

πŸ™‚

\o/

17 06 2013
ddclaywriter

Nothing had changed about Claire’s circumstances, but she’d been given the opportunity to have someone come alongside and bear the burden with her.

I especially like this part of the story. Nothing had changed, but she knew someone cared and she had a chance to talk about it and pray.
What a blessing.

17 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

I’ve seen it happen time and again! Thanks for stopping by! πŸ™‚

\o/

17 06 2013
bdd3

I love this post! We so much much need to go to the heart of what is happening in people and take time to listen and love and pray with them and for them. When what should happen happens then people are astounded by the reality of Christian love and life.

17 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

You’re right. It is only when we learn to do this that we will see the “Acts” church that is being sought by many.

Thank you for your comment. πŸ™‚

\o/

14 06 2013
tinabrenee

What a great post! This is definitely the case much of the time – token, cordial questions and conversation rather than genuine care and concern. I also agree that some seem to enjoy pitching a tent in the ditch and doing life there. That can be draining!

14 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

Yeah, when my tent was “pitched in the ditch” I wore several women out. I’m so thankful that Jesus sent friends who could speak the truth in love and patiently walk me out of the stuck place.

Thanks for stopping by and reading!
\o/

14 06 2013
journeyofjoy

I was reading Charles Spurgeon this morning on Soulwinning. He talked about something very similar, only in a different way. “How is your soul doing” sounds like such a great way to introduce Jesus to someone right there or even somewhere down the line when the door of opportunity is finally open. So glad I ran into your blog! God’s best.

14 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

That’s a twist I hadn’t considered. I’m always looking for ways to turn the conversation to Jesus. Noted! Thanks!! πŸ˜‰

\o/
Praise Jesus!

14 06 2013
blmaluso

Reblogged this on somebodylovesmeblog and commented:
Sometimes all it takes is the “unexpected” to reach a heart! Thanks “lessonsbyheart”!

14 06 2013
blmaluso

What a great idea to pierce through the facade that we all put up from time to time. Relationships are so important for community. I always feel so honored and privileged when someone shares their heart with me. Thanks for sharing!

14 06 2013
kingintraining

Definitely going to try that one!

14 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

I love the results!

\o/

14 06 2013
Bella Grace

Reblogged this on Walking On Water Ministries International and commented:
This is definitely a must read.

13 06 2013
Pure Glory

Tami, thank you for your post. It is so easy to be plastic rather than real. Breaking out of the F word takes love and honest.care for one another. Thanks for sharing!

13 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

πŸ™‚

\o/

13 06 2013
Sally Anderson-Wai

Thank you for your encouraging blog and encouraging comment on my blog. Churches in England are full of people you describe. All we can do is be honest and guard our hearts. God bless.

13 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

Hmm. We used to pray for your churches in England, that more would return to their love for Jesus…now we’ve got our hands full praying for ours in the US. So sad.

Have a blessed day!

\o/

13 06 2013
pastorpete51

Thanks for sharing it is so true that we can’t really go to God together in prayer till we are really honest with each other. It’s just tough sometimes knowing who you can safely open your heart with.

13 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

That is also true. I know a few I would hesitate to share personal concerns with. 😦

Thanks for stopping by!

\o/

13 06 2013
Toni Sprandel

Tami, again you show your spiritual maturity and I am so proud to call you my sister! Thank you for sharing this insight about the “F” word. I pray the LORD will enable me to remember this and I will let you know how it goes! πŸ™‚

13 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

Maturity??? Don’t tell anyone, but most days I’m still in my “Huggies!” Thanks for the vote of confidence.

Best wishes for implementation. I can’t wait to hear what happens!

\o/

13 06 2013
Toni Sprandel

Belly laughing again! You make me smile! πŸ™‚

13 06 2013
crystal780205

Reblogged this on the flame within me and commented:
This is revolved from a fellow blog friend. Her message is profound and one I feel everyone should hear. “Lessonsbyheart”

13 06 2013
msinop1

I agree, Crystal, I have thought about when we say to some one who is going thru a hard time we say ” I’ll pray for you” But, do we? Do we really give it to God? I have been guilty of this myself. Yes, Let’s start a movement of being genuine!!!! Kudos great post!!!
Msinop1.wordpress.com (Marty)

13 06 2013
crystal780205

Very true! Very true!

13 06 2013
msinop1

πŸ™‚

13 06 2013
Mikey

Good read. Enjoyed this immensely and very thought provoking.

13 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

πŸ™‚

\o/

13 06 2013
Especially Made

Great post! We have to find different ways to ask the typical questions. And on the flip side, we have to be willing to answer the typical questions in not-so-typical ways. Although, I’ve been in situations where I answered the “how are you” question in more detail than the other person expected. Sometimes it can make them uncomfortable because they really didn’t want to get too involved in the conversation, but perhaps God can use my transparency to encourage them to do the same.

13 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

Yeah, you can tell the ones who don’t want to hear more than the “F” word. I try to be sensitive to them and not give more than they really want.

I had a woman thank me for being open about what was going on in my life because it gave her permission to do the same. Go figure! πŸ™‚

\o/

13 06 2013
Larry Who

Well written and sadly I’m guilty of doing this from time to time. Hopefully I’ll change.

13 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

Guaranteed – Philippians 1:6! πŸ™‚

\o/

13 06 2013
Greg Poppy

The search for sincerity is ongoing for me as well. I like that question, “How’s your soul?” I believe the time component is a big obstacle to asking it with sincerity.

13 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

There is the possibility that asking “how’s your soul?” will require a time investment. That frequently happens to me.

\o/

13 06 2013
crystal780205

Wow! I feel the same way. Thank you for posting this… My biggest pet-peace is people not being “real” in the church God intended for a place for His people to be “teal” and find a place for guidance and fellowship. I would love you to share this on my blog? Blessings, Crystal

13 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

I feel the same way, too. πŸ™‚

Feel free to re-blog anything you want from here. (Know how to do that? It’s the Reblog button on the menu bar.)

\o/

13 06 2013
crystal780205

Thank you! I’ll do that! It’s a message many need to hear. Blessings,

Crystal

13 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

Thanks for passing it on!

\o/

13 06 2013
Heidi Viars

I love this, Tammi! Thanks for reminding us to not fling around the “F” word and care with sincere hearts for one another … You are such an encourager!

13 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

I find it hard to not ask “How are you.” This is so ingrained in my thinking. I love the answers I get when I ask after the welfare of their soul. Sometimes it requires rolling up my sleeves and wading in…but what a blessing when I do. Glad this post made sense! πŸ™‚

\o/

13 06 2013
vonhonnauldt

I admit, I thought of that other Christian “F” word when I saw your title: “forgiven.” Thought-provoking post.

13 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

Hmm. That’s another “F” word – but one that I adore! πŸ˜‰

May the Lord’s love light your day!

\o/

13 06 2013
knittingbassist

I love how you re-phrased the question, I’m going to try that!

13 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

πŸ™‚

\o/

13 06 2013
The Lily and The Marrow

What a beautiful way to be more genuine. It is also my desire to learn o become more and more genuine – not just in my writers, but in my daily interactions.
Many blessings,
-Jen

13 06 2013
lessonsbyheart

That’s a great desire! No doubt it was planted there by the One who knows us best and loves us most. πŸ˜‰ That means success is guaranteed! (Phil. 1:6).

May this be a wonder-full day!

\o/

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