How many times, when you're talking to a friend and they ask "How are you?", you follow up with "Fine." Or "Not bad." Or even "Getting there." When really you want to say something like, "I feel shitty, fat, like I'm struggling to keep my head above water, I'm going through a real rough patch with my husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner and I don't know what to do, I'm stuck in a rut and can't see the way out..." Why, when asked how we're doing, do we give everyone a sanitised reply?
I'm not suggesting you spill your guts to the poor supermarket check-out chick or dude when they follow their script of "How are you today?", but even with our friends we tend to keep our cards close to our chest. Some dear friends, God bless them, keep pushing until they get the truth because they know us enough to see through the fakery - and how much better do you feel after you've opened up to one of those friends? So why don't we do that more often? Be honest? Are we afraid that others will judge us as weak because we struggle from time to time? Do we really think our friends and those around us don't have shitty days and struggle too?
The deadline is drawing closer to finding out whether I lose my job or not. You might struggle to believe me when I tell you that I don't tell many people about it - outside close friends and family... and however many of you are reading. But casual friends and acquaintances do get the sanitised answer of "Oh, I'm not too sure about my job's future but we're doing okay." When really I should say, "You know what, there's a high chance I'm losing my job in less than two weeks and I'm kinda worried about making ends meet if that happens. And somehow I'd like to study nursing but we don't have the money and there don't seem to be many nursing jobs going at the moment anyway, thanks to the State Government. But I love God and trust Him to see us through this, even though the control freak inside me just wants to go crazy and 'fix' everything. So, I don't suppose you need someone with my skills or know of someone?" Ha!
On the weekend my beautiful, patient and ever-supportive husband told a friend of his the truth about where we're at at the moment, and the first thing he said was, "Well, if it comes to February and nothing's happening, give me a call. I might be able to help or let you know of someone who is looking for an XYZ." Cool, huh? Our support network just grew by one more!
Honesty among trusted friends can open doors and lead to comfort, reassurance and support. And who doesn't need more of that in their lives, even in the good seasons? Whether it's relational, job related, parenting issues, emotional struggles or something else - we all need honesty to know we're not alone.
Ask a friend an honest question and wait for their honest answer. Then be honest with them in return. It might lead to something great - even if that's just a "warm and fuzzy" and a closer, stronger friendship.
(As an aside, have you ever seen the look of stranded horror on the face of the supermarket check-out chick/dude when you do give them an honest answer about how your day's going? It's hilarious! Poor kids don't cover that in training! Best to follow their script!)