Why is it that we greet each other with "Hi, how are you?" wherever we go? We do it at church, school, work, and whenever we bump into someone. Walmart greeters, church greeters, and cashiers ask us all the time how we are doing. And we usually respond "fine". Do they really want to know how we are, or is it a commonplace formality to ask? And if we answer them with the truth would they listen? Would they care? Would they wish they had never asked? And if you are like me then after you have answered with the usual "fine" you counter question with "How are you?", expecting to hear "fine" back! I find myself suddenly challenged with the question of whether or not I really want to know how people are doing when I ask them! Sure, I genuinely care when I am asking a friend or a family member, but what about the person in front of me at church during coffee hour? The cashier at the grocery store? The customer representative on the other end of the phone?
I saw God this week in Walmart of all places! He met me in the check out line when I in robotic response to the cashier asking me how I was, in turn asked her how she was! BUT she did not respond with fine, and I ashamedly admit that I was taken off guard and disappointed that she was honest in her answer.
If you are reading this blog you know me well enough to know that I absolutely HATE grocery shopping and so I am a strategic shopper. I organize my list by aisle and get in and out quickly. I am prone to hide if I see someone I know because I hate being held up in the grocery store. I have mastered weaving in and out of grocery aisles with my cart and 2 kids at a power walkers speed, all in the hopes of getting in and out quickly. So heaven forbid I end up in a checkout lane with a particularly chatty cashier, especially if the kids have been fighting in the store A LOT before check out!!!!!
Let me tell you, she was chatty! She was taking her time and talking a lot with the lady in front of me, as my kids fought with each other and bug me to buy candy! Then she turned the blinking light on because she needed a manager. If you know me, by now you can imagine I am peaking my head around the corner looking for another check out to run to! (didn't find one) Then it was my turn and when I ask her how she is doing, she starts by talking about how tired she is, and how slow the day is going, and that she is there until 6pm and right now it's 12pm! And I stand there annoyed because I have 2 fighting kids and I don't care how she is doing I want out of there. Why did she have to be honest? Here's why: God needed to show up at the grocery store to show me that I need to care even in my hurried life and hatred of grocery shopping, I need to see the cashier as a human being instead of an obstacle on the way to the parking lot!
Here's the challenge for myself and for you... When you and I ask someone how they are doing we need to mean it, to actually want to know how they are otherwise we should not ask because asking without caring is being fake. And when someone asks us how we are doing we need to be like the Walmart cashier and be honest, let the person really know how you are. Maybe it will challenge them as it did me, and shake them out of their self centered complacency!