I’m Just Fine. Am I Fine?

So often people come up to us and ask, “How are you?” and we answer, “I’m fine, thank you.” Yet we’re not fine. We’re sick. Struggling. Worried about all kinds of things. Stressed. Depressed. Trying to do our best, yet feeling as if we’re failing. And on and on.

14 08 Di Phone 292

When people ask us that ubiquitous question; “How’s it going?” or some derivative of it, how should we answer. I know I get worried they’ll get overloaded if I answer honestly. If I say, “Not great. I’ve been sick since Christmas.” Or worse, “I’ve been depressed for the past three weeks, or months, etc.”

Yikes. Depressed. What are they going to say? “Uh, sorry to hear that.” and then they drift on by to the next person. Or, maybe they’re courageous and answer, “I’m so sorry, can you tell me more?” and you start to list all the reasons why. You’ve been ill for weeks/months/years and you just can’t take it anymore. Or you have bills piling up and you don’t know what you’re going to do, you can’t pay them. Or your husband, child, mother is sick and you’re scared and worn out. Scared of the future. For all of the above reasons, or for other reasons. For reasons that seem reasonable or reasons that seem foolish.

I know I have a hard time with the question; “How are you?” I have a chronic disease–Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so at any given moment i might be  in a lot of pain, or have spent several nights awake with severe pain, and/or I might be terribly fatigued, the kind of fatigue you get when you have the flu. If I say those things I sometime see people’s eyes glaze over, and I feel like they’re thinking “Too much information.”

Or I feel they will think I am not “answering in faith,” or “thinking positively.” I do know that in Jesus I am healed, etc, but I may still not be fine at that moment. I may be experiencing such severe vertigo I walk like a drunk, or have bruising falls.

I really don’t want to be needy. A “black hole” that might suck the energy out of others.

Or we’re afraid we’ll be compared to someone else whose problems are so much harsher than our own, eg, my fibromyalgia compared to someone else’s cancer or loss of a loved one. My “problems” are hardly worth mentioning in light of those other huge crises. Yet, despite someone else’s monumental problems I still feel terrible. One can drown in four inches of water as in an ocean storm.

I think we’re sometimes also afraid of being too vulnerable. Of maybe starting to cry [and if you can’t cry in church amongst friends who will pray for you, where can you cry?]

So how do we answer truthfully, honestly, yet without being a heavy weight in the moment?

I recently watched a documentary on rock climbing and when you rock climb you often have to rely on a partner, a friend, especially if it’s a difficult part of the climb, or a technique that’s not familiar to you. Rock climbing is actually a good metaphor for our Christian journey. We have to be connected to a partner, and they are connected to us. and it’s not a question of if I might fall, but of when all rock climbers fall at some point or another. And not only are you connected to your friend, you are both anchored in the rock. Our rock is Jesus

Rock Climbing

Image from Google Images

I guess it comes down to being willing to be honest and transparent, but also to give short answers and allow the other person to  ask for more info as to why you’re not totally fine right now.  2 Corinthians 12:7

I’ve had to learn this, especially as many people forget I have fibromyalgia and when I mention that’s the reason I don’t feel well they seem to have no memory of what I’ve said in the past. Which makes me wonder how many times I’ve forgotten something someone else has told me about their struggles.

Mercy, grace, patience. We have to always have these qualities with others and ourselves.

God bless your journey in Christ, whether it’s a difficult climb, a free-fall, or a smooth walk [for now].

I welcome all your comments



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7 Responses to I’m Just Fine. Am I Fine?

  1. Michael Turner says:

    Wow! What a great blog Diana, and timed perfectly with Bell’s ‘Let’s Talk’ day today, when the national spotlight is being focused on just this sort of thing. This would be a great piece on any media out there writing about this today.

    You hit the nail right on the head for me. I’ve even mentioned to friends in the past, that I find the rhetorical – “How are you?” – an uncomfortable greeting. Especially if I’ve been feeling depressed for a while, and my body feels like I borrowed it from a 120 year old man, I know that most people don’t really want to know, yet I feel somewhat dishonest as|I muster a smile and nod that I’m “good, thanks”. Then my interior monologue chirps in with “boy if they really knew how I was feeling right now they probably wouldn’t have come near me.” If you work in a large building or are just seeing a lot of people on an especially tough day, this simple greeting can keep continually triggering you into feeling worse every time you have to don that mask of “normalcy”.

    I know however, that the people closest to me do actually care, and that makes all the difference. They are my climbing partners – as you have so wonderfully put it, and I think hearing it that way gets me thinking a little differently.

    By the way, I too get that guilt about my problems being trivial compared to so many others in crises, so I love your analogy about the drowning in either inches of water or an ocean storm.

    It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who thinks like this. Thanks for the encouraging words, Diana. You keep writing them, and |I’ll keep reading.

  2. Diana says:

    Thanks for this comment, Mike. Just reading it makes me feel better–less alone. I think there are probably lots of people who don’t quite know what to do with the question, “How are you?” or “How’s it going?”

    Thanks so much for your encouraging comments about what I’ve written.

    Blessings, Diana

  3. Diana, by writing this blog post you’ve helped those who read it know they’re not alone. Isolation doesn’t help hurting people, nor do “sermons.” I hope those who need to read this see it and are comforted by it. Recently a friend was worried she’d overloaded me with her burdens; I told her I was honored to share it with her. She ended up helping me with mine when I was suddenly overwhelmed by an illness in the family.
    Your reminder we need each other is spot on. I’m glad my friend and I were there for each other.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

    • Diana says:

      Wendy, Thank you for your comment. Sorry it took me a few days to reply. I appreciate your input here and your encouragement to get help, or just talk to a friend. I’ve gone through things, and like your friend, I’ve often been afraid my friends would feel like I’m burdening them. Thank you for your assurance to your friend [and to me and others like me] that you are honored. What a wonderful way to view this. I feel immensely comforted hearing that. I have no doubt your friend was also greatly comforted. And you’re right–it’s a two way street. Our turn to help will come and as we’ve been comforted, so shall we comfort others. 2 Corinthians 1:2-3

  4. Diane P Morin says:

    Diana, my dear dear friend, sister and neighbour…….have you been reading my mind
    telepathically through the walls again?!! I have thought every thought and asked each question exactly as you have expressed them above! I get asked the same question over and over and it has left me with the same quandary. Do I answer truthfully but yet try not to make people feel I’ll be a sudden burden once they know how sick I am? Do I lie? We all know that most of us with Fibromyalgia and CFS for the most part look well on the outside. It is easy for people to assume we ARE well by just looking at us. If we were in a wheelchair or in a cast people would be far more compassionate because to see it is to believe it…..very unlike our faith walk! They are complicated illnesses and as you mention there are times while in the middle of [our] explanation we find people’s
    eyes glazing over or we know their minds are wandering.
    To be honest, I do become angry sometimes….with old friends or sometimes with my hubby who is very patient and kind, but asks me over and over daily and it seems to go in one ear and out the other! After 30 yrs! Presently I am in agony because my lower back has locked itself up as a result of the coughing from a recent bout of pneumonia. How are you today…knowing full well the pain has not diminished!! I feel like screaming….”how the hell do you think it feels?!
    When we begin to compare our suffering to someone else’s we can lose sight of the fact that our suffering may be different but no less difficult for us to deal with. Of course I am grateful I do not have cancer, Huntington’s or any other life threatening illness but my daily walk IS a struggle. I some times think……am I waiting for a specific response after I tell someone what I go through. If they ask me and I give them my answer is the ball now in their court and I just leave it there regardless of what their reaction or response may be? I, myself, am not sure of the answers either.
    I have come to know how little we know about suffering. As a believer, Christ died that I [we] would have all the benefits of a redeemed soul…healing, provision, all of God’s promises. Yet I know so many other faithful believers, not pew warmers, who suffer greatly year after year. I know I do not have the answers. However the God we serve knows what He is doing. In our suffering, in our times of feeling unheard, can we trust Him enough to leave it all with Him even though we so desperately as humans want to know it all!! He is so merciful, gracious, patient and longsuffering with us. I have decided that regardless of my circumstances I will trust Him knowing His thoughts and ways are far greater than mine.
    I appreciate your candour, Diana……as I said, you must have read my mind!!!
    Hugs and blessings. Di xoxo

  5. Denise Glisson says:

    Greetings Diana, from a Prayer Buddy of Diane P Morin’s! I’m so glad I took the time to read your Blog this day. As with others who have commented I share their response as well as yours. If I could just remember to answer people when they ask me “how are you” to tell them “I’M BLESSED” would be great. I have a friend who will ask me “How are You Really?” then I share how things are going or progressing or declining etc…

    God bless You, Diana and I pray that you have a “partner” to share with as you live out this life.

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