“How are you doing today?” I would imagine you have been asked this question every day of your life by someone. Maybe even multiple times a day.
This question can be asked in the morning, or in the afternoon or even in the evening. I don’t know when there isn’t a good time to ask it. It’s usually preceded by “Hello!” Like in, “Hello, how are you doing today?” It can be asked by almost anyone. My wife has asked me this question. My friends have asked me this question. My doctor always asks me this question.
Most of the time, we ask or we are asked this question because it is a habit of ours to ask. But I wonder if the person asking the question really wants to know if I have a hang nail that is killing me every time I take a step or if my nose is stuffed up so much that I have to breathe through my mouth, or if I didn’t have time to eat breakfast and it’s 10 o’clock in the morning and I am starving to death.
Sometimes, I really think the person asking the question wants to know, so I tell them about my hang nail and even before I get to the stuffy nose, they are headed in the opposite direction wishing me a “good day.” I mean, if you don’t want to stick around and hear what I have to say in response to your question, why would you ask it in the first place?
This week, I have talked to several people who are dealing with some serious “stuff.” I have listened to them share with me for close to an hour. Why? Because it’s what I do. I’m a pastor and I listen. Seemingly, I have a face that says to the people I meet, “Tell me what’s going on in your life” because many times, I don’t even ask and they still tell me.
Recently, I shared with our church I have been diagnosed with depression. I have been battling it for almost four months now. Statistics tell us that about 1,700 pastors leave the ministry each week because of depression. I never thought it would happen to me, but now I know what depression feels like and I can relate.
I have used this season of depression to be able to share with the people that I talk to that everyone of us deal with something in our life. Every one of us. From the homeless person on the street to the richest person you know — we all have something that we deal with on an every day basis. We all carry something around with us every day. It’s the first thing we think about when we wake up and it’s the last thing we think about when we go to bed at night. Sometimes, it bears on us so much we have difficulty functioning. Sometimes, it’s all we can think about.
For many years of my life, I was a “poser.” I’d wear a smiley face everywhere I went. I was the pastor. I had it made. I lived so close to God that nothing was able to get through my armor-lined cape. I had an “S” on my chest and I was invincible. Or so the people thought.
How good are we at “posing” — attempting to be someone we are not to impress others? Buying things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t even like? Working hard at making people think we “have achieved” in life — whatever it is we felt we needed to achieve. Usually, at church, we walk in with our smiley face on and pretend that everything is OK — all the while our “house is on fire” (not literally, but our home life is a mess) or something is going on in our life that is beginning to consume us — because we just don’t want people to know the truth of the matter.
Here’s what we need to do: realize that everyone is in this life, together. We all struggle with something. We all work longer hours than we want to work. Life comes at us fast. There’s usually not enough money left at the end of the month and if you could walk a mile in my shoes or someone else’s shoes, you wouldn’t be so quick to throw that stone.
Bottom line? Learn to extend grace. God did it for you. Now you do it for others. And when someone needs to talk — be there for them. You will never know the difference you could make in someone’s life by just being there and by just listening to what they have to say.
And that is Something To Think About for this week.
God loves you. In spite of everything you have ever done in your life God loves you. If you are searching for God in your life, He can be found. I invite you to check out the church of your choice this weekend and start a relationship with the God of all Creation.
Pastor Thad Gifford is the founding and lead pastor of the Crossroads Community Church, 62 E. Second St., London. He can be reached at 740-852-7800, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.3C-Church.org or visit the church’s Facebook page at Crossroadslondon.