You are hearing but do you really listen?

July 14, 2017

George Hemmings of Christ Church Anglican. Photo by Luke Hemer.

A FEW weeks ago I rushed to answer the phone only to discover it wasn’t the call I was expecting.

Instead of the voice of a friend I was greeted with a heavy accent asking: “Hello, how are you today?”

I replied I was actually feeling pretty terrible (I wasn’t, but rather than hanging up on these calls I have to admit I like to see what fun I can have with them!)

Without missing a beat the response I got was: “That is very good sir. Can I tell you about…” They hadn’t heard what I’d said at all.

But reflecting on this, I have to say I can’t blame them.

We constantly enquire about each other’s health but how often do we really stop to reflect on the answer?

So often it’s just something we say after hello, a nicety that we get out of the way before we move onto what we think is a more meaningful matter.

And when someone asks us the question, how often do we easily reply “I’m OK” without even thinking about sharing how we’re really going?

Even though life might be falling down around us we often feel that all we can do is give a shrug and say “I’m fine”.

At other times we might be feeling on top of the world, but rather than sharing this we just say “I’m good” in a lacklustre kind of way.

My tongue-in-cheek response to telemarketers aside, a while ago I decided to answer honestly whenever someone asked me how I was.

I reasoned that if they cared about me enough to ask, I should share with them how I was really going.

And when I ask someone how they’ve been and their answer rolls off the tongue, I try to follow up with a “really”?

Really; for I really do want to know how you’re going.

The Bible talks about friendship in this deeper way.

When we’re called to love one another it’s not in a skin-deep, superficial kind of way, but selflessly and sacrificially.

That can only happen if we’re open and honest with one another.

We’re called to rejoice with those who are rejoicing and to weep with those who are weeping (Rom. 12:15).

Or, as was once said on the greatest TV show ever (that’s West Wing for those of you wondering) “we celebrate and we mourn together. And defeats are softened and victories sweeter because we did them together”.

No matter how you put it, it’s only possible we let others know how we’re going.

Being open and honest with others like this is risky – but it’s worth it.

The Bible reminds us that we weren’t created to go it alone. The only way we can survive, and thrive, is in relationship with one another and with God.

That all begins by asking “how are you”?

George Hemmings

Christ Church, Anglican

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