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I will admit, I’m not what you might consider a “people person”. Being naturally introverted and an INFJ (according to the MBTI test), I find it so much easier to keep to myself rather than being socially outgoing and talkative.
Of course, I have my family and friends that I spend time with, but when it comes to interacting with strangers, I tend to get lazy. As in, say as little as possible, because talking takes effort for me, and why do it if it’s not necessary?
BUT, I have one particular area that I’m trying to work on…one that has been bugging me for a very long time. And maybe it bugs you too, regardless of how outgoing (or not) you are…
It’s the customary “How are you?” that is often asked, but seldom answered with any level of honesty. In fact, both the person asking, and the one responding, are usually just doing so as a courtesy. And I’ve long
hated strongly disliked the whole custom, because it’s almost always pointless.
“How are you?”
“Oh, I’m fine. And yourself?”
Sometimes, there’s just not enough time to chat (like in the checkout lane at the grocery store, the checker always asks). Other times, I just don’t know the person well (or at all), and/or I don’t have any relevant info I feel like sharing.
As I said, this whole dilemma has bothered me for years… but it’s only recently that I’ve really begun to see anything wrong with it.
It seems like when I answer “I’m good/fine/okay” to the usual query, the person who asked is much more likely to say the same (“fine”), and then what have we learned about each other? Nothing. No sharing, no meaningful exchange, no lifting each other up with encouraging words. Just a stupid scripted courtesy that’s completely pointless.
SO, my goal going forward is to break this trend! Good intentions aren’t enough (I’ve tried to change my habits on a half-baked level, and still heard those easy words like “fine”, “good”, “not too bad”, come out of my mouth). Clearly it’s going to take more of an effort!
I’ve thought of some things I actively need to do, and I wanted to share them with you, in case you’d like to do this little “challenge” with me. 😉
Because when it’s done authentically, checking in with people, sharing, and really listening, is a great way to love our neighbors.
Four Practices to Make This Stick
- Firstly, I’m going to have to decide beforehand each day, what I’ll say in response to those “how are you?” queries. This might be something I pray and think on in the morning, or on the way to work, or before I go into the grocery store. Depending on what’s going on that day, and the situation at hand, it could be a few words or a whole paragraph worth. But it must go far beyond the standard one-word response.
- The response must include something positive, even if the answer itself is not positive. For example, “I’m really tired/sad/depressed today because of ____. But God is good, and He is helping me through it.”
- I will pray for courage, wisdom, patience, and empathy…to make the most of those conversations, and also for me as an introvert to speak up and not fall back on the old “I’m fine” auto-reply.
- Regardless of who asks the question first (me or them), I will be ready to listen to other person’s response. I will also do my best to smile, give encouragement, affirmation, or even offer to pray for them, as necessary. I will set aside my prejudices, presumptions, judgement, animosity, etc. towards that person, and love them exactly where they are in that moment.
Love is a choice. There have been plenty of times I’ve chosen selfishly, but this is one area that I hope to start making better choices in! If we can go through each day looking for opportunities like this to love on others, this world we live in will be so much better off, and so will we. By sharing and caring, we can bring glory to God and point others to the hope we have in Jesus!
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Hi! Thank you so much for visiting Divine Creative Love. I’m a Jesus-lovin’ girl, lettering artist, designer, and general creative-at-heart. And, I have narcolepsy. I blog about faith in God, overcoming challenges, and creative topics such as Bible journaling. If you’re new here, be sure and subscribe to my list so you won’t miss anything!