Saturday, September 17, 2005

No, I'm not okay

Have you ever noticed how people tend to greet each other?  “How are you doing?” they ask.  This is supposed to be ceremonial language, merely a formality.  The proper answer, of course, is “I’m fine.  How are you?”  Because, you see, once we’ve made genuflections in the direction of caring for each other, we can get on with the business of getting what we want out of a conversation.

I’m not pointing fingers.  I’ve done this.  We’re all guilty of it.

Then one day, my father figured out that he was doing it.  So he decided that he would take the question seriously.  If someone asked him how he was doing, he would—are you sitting down?—give an honest answer.  And I, being his son, have tried to follow in his footsteps.  Of course, being my mother’s son, I can be a little pushy about it.  Not only do I give honest answers, I tend to push for honest answers when I inquire as to how someone is doing.

Be careful what you say around me.  You just might come to regret it.

Which brings us to today.

I’m still sick.

I’m still sick, and most of my family is still sick.

Justice started coughing.

I haven’t been to work or worship in weeks.

I feel lonely.

My sleep last night was fragmented, trying to care for a squalling baby and a frustrated wife.

I feel scattered and confused.

I’m scared.

I’m worn out.

I’m not all right.

So, when a woman from our church called and asked how we were, I asked her if she really wanted to know.

And she did.

So, I told her.  I told her about how we’ve been sick for so long that it’s beginning to feel normal.  I told her that I haven’t been driving, because I’m afraid that I’ll crash during a coughing fit.  I told her that Justice is coughing and we’re afraid that he’ll be seriously ill.  I told her that we’re tired and lonely and scared.

And she listened.  God bless her for it.

The Bible says, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.”  (Ephesians 4:25)  This truth-telling begins by stating what should be an obvious truth:  I’m not all right.  The Gospel tells us that we are sinners living in a broken world.  This means that we get sick and we get tired and we hurt each other and we lose heart and we fall apart and that sometimes we just can’t take it anymore.

It means saying that I’m scared that my son is going to die from whooping cough.  It means saying that I’m not nearly as good a person as you think I am.  It means saying that I desperately wish that I were at work, struggling with a stupid last-minute project because it would mean that life was normal again.  It means saying that I can’t stop coughing and it hurts so bad sometimes and I don’t have it together.  I don’t have it together.

I’m not okay.

And that’s the truth.


Blogger james3v1 said...

Thank you for having it together yesterday when I did not.

9/19/2005 12:00:00 PM  

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