Your Thoughts: A Better Question

“How are you?”

I’d guess this is one of people’s most common greetings. And I’ve found it one of the most meaningless ones. Not that some people who ask this aren’t sincere in wanting a real answer. But it’s usually said as commonly as “hello” and not really intended to be answered…not really. I mentally kick myself when I use it casually.

The truth is, most of us answer, “I’m good, fine,” or some variant of the two, while beneath the mask, we’re struggling, hurting, in pain, grief, feeling the fatigue of life, etc.

i am fine mask

So recently I have tried to do things a bit differently: “What things are new in your life lately?”

And then really listening. And asking questions to keep the conversation going and letting the person know I actually do want to hear. Even if it means stopping what I am doing for a few minutes (these few minutes aren’t mine anyway, they’re His). Even if I can’t do anything to change what they’re telling me.

Sometimes the best way…the simplest way…to show someone who Christ is can be just to listen. With patience and kindness. With interest.

Tell me…what ideas do you have for better ways to open up conversations with people that lets them know you actually want to connect with them, if only for a few moments? I’d like to hear your experiences.

Your Thoughts: The Right Words

I’m a window cleaner. Not really by choice, but because for the last 3+ years, it’s what I’ve been given for provision.

That said, I am not really “built” to be a window cleaner. My body has responded to the repetition of window cleaning with hearty doses of pain, pretty much all the time. As a result, I actually have more compassion for people who walk around in constant pain.

What’s this have to do with the right words? Continue reading

Your Thoughts: The Sound of Suffering

I live on what I consider a busy street. Traffic passes impatiently through on its way to a nearby bridge. Of course, I didn’t know this when I moved in. Who knows these things? <smile>

When cars and trucks go rushing by in all the glory of revving engines and unmuffled carburetors, all I can hear is the noise. But the other day, I was sitting on the porch steps and I realized that there were also birds singing. Tons of them in fact! I think they sing most mightily just before spring becomes “official.”


Photo credit:

As I started to listen more to the birds, the traffic noise somehow seemed to fade. It’s funny how when you focus on one thing (traffic noise, let’s say), you can largely block out the other.

Can you relate to acting like this in the midst of your suffering? The noise of our feelings floods our hearing and drowns out anything else. We begin to tune in on just one channel: the problem-solving or escape channel. It’s hard to listen for God’s truth through the clouds of chaotic thought.

What are your thoughts – how do you hear God in the midst of your suffering? What are things you do or say that help you (and could help others who read this)?