That is what we say anyway.
Have you ever been with a group of people who seemed intent on communicating that everything was just fine when in fact it was not fine? These people may be friends, family members, or people with whom you have some history. No matter what, they communicate to you that all was and is fine.
Now I want to quickly say that I am not implying that one ought to pour out her soul to every single stranger who happens to ask you how you are. No, I am actually referring to another kind of setting. I am referring to those times when we are in the company of friends and we just seem intent on communicating that we are wonderful when in fact we are not.
On one occasion I was in a conversation with my older daughter Christine about this. She reflected on what people seem to be up to in such situations when they communicate that all is well even when you suspect or know it isn’t. Her observations are interesting:
- They don’t want to feel. Nor do they want you to feel. Then they have to face hurt (either their own or yours) and they can’t control the situation. And, they really want to be in control.
I think she is exactly right! Consequently, these people have a way of keeping everything on a very surface level. You may ask them about a situation in their lives that you know is extremely difficult if not extraordinarily painful. Yet, they don’t want to feel the pain or deal with yours, so they respond by telling you that everything is great.
Christine went on to say:
- These are the people who want to rush in to your pain and immediately announce that "everything is going to be OK." The only way they can avoid pain (either yours or their own) is to send a message of optimism (though it may be false optimism). Of course it may not be OK. Sometimes people have problems and things get worse instead of better. Sometimes people die.
I think she makes a good point. How many times have you seen someone receive bad news regarding health, a child, a marriage, only to have someone quickly announce that everything is going to be OK?
- People who say such things actually want you to be where THEY are instead of loving you where you are. They are more comfortable living in a world that always works out and where everything is always going to be OK. Consequently, you sense from these people that they don’t want you to say what you are really feeling. They can only deal with you if you will move to where you ought to be (in their minds).
Again, I think she is correct. Consequently, in subtle ways we communicate to people that our love and ministry are available but you must move to where we think you ought to be.
- What we need to do is learn to be with people right where they are.
I think she is right. Since Jesus is the "real minister," we are called to love people just like he did, right where they are. Maybe we are called to get out of the way and to forget what makes us feel comfortable. Maybe the most important place to be at any given moment is right where another really is.