O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. (Psalm 139:1-3)
How are you? It’s perhaps one of the most frequent questions we ask, but these days it feels like one of the most loaded ones too. Lately, when I ask someone this question or someone asks it of me, more often than not it starts out with some version of, “Well, all things considered…” or “We’re all healthy, but…” Since many of us know someone who is faring much worse than we are, we may worry we’ll sound ungrateful if we say anything but, “good.”
The other day I asked a friend this question, knowing even as I did that it was incredibly inadequate. This friend’s long-awaited, and much-needed, time away had just been cancelled because of a family member getting sick. I knew how much she had been looking forward to that time, as well as how devastating it can be when the break you thought was coming is eliminated.
After unpacking all this and talking together for awhile, my friend then asked me how I was and I fumbled through an answer. The best I could do was break my life into parts and share how things were going in each one: family, work, personally.
When someone asks us how we are doing, we don’t always have the time or the desire to break things down for them like this. And granted, not everyone who asks this question is expecting us to do so. Often, “How are you?” is simply part of the greeting that we extend to another.
I’m not saying that is good or bad, and I’m not saying that we should share intimately with everyone who asks the question. Yet I do think it is important to ask ourselves how we are doing, and what’s more, to be thoughtful in our answer. In fact, the more honest we are in our answer, the more likely we are to make it through this time with a sense of resilience, compassion, and inner peace.
To that end, I wonder if you will indulge me by letting me ask you…
How are you, physically? Are you getting the rest, exercise, and sleep that you need? Are you eating a balanced diet? If not, what adjustments might you make?
How are you, emotionally? Are you taking time for rejuvenation? Have you connected with a friend recently? Is there an underlying feeling of pain, insecurity, or fear that you need to address? What can you do to help you be as emotionally healthy as possible?
How are you, spiritually? What are you doing to stay connected and grow in relationship with God? If you aren’t, is that the way you want it to be?
I ask these pointed questions because this pandemic has a way of intensifying just about everything we would “normally” feel and any idiosyncrasies that may exist. So it should not come as a surprise that paying attention to what we feel and examining why we feel that way goes a long way in us making it through this time as healthily as possible– physically, emotionally, and spiritually.