I run into people that know our story quite often. When I do the first thing they ask is how my husband is doing. That is not a simple answer. Do I say the quick knee jerk response, “He’s fine”, or do I tell the frank truth, “He’s not doing good”? It’s a struggle. I want to be truthful but do people really want to hear the reality of our lives? I once had a youth pastor that wouldn’t let you give that knee jerk response. He would ask, “how are you?” and if you said “fine” he would retort with “no, how are you really and don’t say fine, I truly want to know how you are doing”. I always admired that, but I feel he was in the minority with his true intentions behind that question.
I err on the side of truthfulness. This comes with a price though; I get THE LOOK! If you have a loved one who is or you are yourself in chronic pain or have a chronic illness, you know THE LOOK! The person asking starts out with a Cheshire cat look. They are all smiles excited to talk to you and ask about the one who is ill or hurting. They are hoping for either the “fine” answer or to hear you say “he’s healed” or “he has no more pain”. Alas, you give the truthful response and their face quickly morphs into Droopy Dog. Y’all know who that is right? The droopy faced dog that looks so sad. It can also be described as a cross between an “I’m sorry I asked” expression and a look of pity with a little “I just want to run away from you right now” thrown in.
Occasionally someone will ask and once I give my genuine reply, they have a look of true compassion on their face. That one is hard to describe but it is easy to recognize. They definitely do not try to run away after you respond, instead they engage you, ask more probing questions or offer to pray with you. I am humbled by that response and try to be that person when the opportunity presents itself.
I try to take no notice when I get THE LOOK as I understand why they do it. They don’t really know how to respond. They probably have no idea they even give THE LOOK. Next time it happens to you, have sympathy for that person and just let them run away. You can be an example to your loved ones on how to respond with grace and mercy for others. If you are someone who gives THE LOOK, try to be conscious of how you respond when you get an answer. Don’t be afraid of the answer you may get. Show them love and compassion.