How are you? Really….

I can run through days upon days exchanging small talk, without really making a connection. How are you? I’m good, and you? Every once in a while, someone I don’t expect stops and really considers the question. Maybe they aren’t working out their answer as much as weighing heart of the asker. Do I really want to know? Do I care?

The other day, a brief moment opened a door for a real connection. “How are you?” became the hinge upon which friendship swung. The truth is, it doesn’t take long to show up in someone’s life… to care, to see them. We talked about several areas of life, the challenges both big and small. We talked about the vulnerability, the unknown, and the turmoil. We confessed the power and glory of the God we serve, and the turmoil of the life we live.

Nothing really changed. Our lives moved on after a brief moment, caught up in the next conversations, the to-do list, the hustle of life. Neither of us walked away with new answers to life’s challenges or great spiritual insight. But the simplicity and honesty of that interaction lingers in my heart. I wonder how many moments like this I miss because I don’t have the courage to just show up.

I’m a good asker. Close friends would tell you that I look and listen for moments in their lives. I’m not bad a paying attention in the lives of others. The place I struggle is in the opening up my own heart. The people who know me best, understand this and don’t let me get away with it… but it is my default. Here, let me take care of you. But when I’m asked, how are you really? I struggle to let down my guard and simply tell the truth.

It’s about trust for me. I’ve learned the hard way that vulnerability requires safety. I am blessed beyond measure to have people in my life who have a track record of trust. Usually, I default to this inner circle to confess to turmoil and share heartache. These are the folks who won’t be deflected, who see me even when I hide.

But, maybe sometimes I miss out on a simple connection because I hide behind the wall of “all is well.” Maybe I miss out on a chance to know and be known. I’ve been thinking about the value of these moments. Wondering if they are worth the risk. If I believe that people matter, that the bonds of friendship and human connection have a divine origin, maybe I should rethink my default stand and look for these micro connections. Not because they will change my life, or someone else, but because the web of love and grace that connects us matters.

Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. II Thessalonians 1:3

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