Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Follow-Up To The Challenge

It's harder than you think. Have you tried it? Does it make you want to stop asking the question?

When I issued the challenge I knew it wouldn't be easy. You see, I've done something similar before. In college. A friend initiated the challenge. Said "Next time someone asks you 'How are you?' answer with something off-the-wall." We responded with things like "Fine. Just worried 'bout this malaria." ... and believe or not, we got the 'usual' responses of "That's good." And sometimes, because people thought they heard us say the customary "Good. And you?" they actually responded with "Good, thanks!" Can you imagine consciously replying that way? Probably not but we are all so culturally programed that we do it automatically.

Back to this week's's been hard for me. I barely had issued the challenge when I had 'the conversation' with a clerk in a drive-through. Hard to get to the real issues in a quick interaction. But I tried. Since then, I have stopped several people in their tracks. Especially when they start the conversation and I change the rules...

Them: "Hi. How are you?"
Me: "The day is going well. How's life treating you right now?"

Them: "Good."
Me: "Really? Anything particularly interesting going on?"

Most have replied with something like "Not really...things are pretty good." But they also walk away with a smile on their face, knowing someone was listening, someone was caring.

One sweet reader of these lessons even tried to trip me up to see if I would practice the challenge I issued. I think I passed the test. I wonder if that reader has changed their conversations this week.

What I have noticed over these past few days is that this challenge has started to change the way I speak. I've always known that one should think before they speak but this is different. I have considered the words coming out of my mouth just a tad bit more.
On a side note but related to really caring: I have a long-time precious friend that is seriously battling cancer. She is under new treatment that is presenting her with some new challenges. She lives too far away from me. I wish I could be there with her. I hope today that if someone asks her how she is doing that she would share her sufferings with them but more importantly I hope that the listener would really do all that they could to help her whether it's fluff the pillows, take her son to sports practice, give her some ice to help with the fever, or simply pray.

And I ask each of you reading this today to lift her up in prayer. God knows her name...He really does...she is a strong believer, a long-time child of the King. So please stop reading for a moment and say a prayer for her. Pray for her healing, wisdom for her doctors, strength for her caretakers, peace for her family, and whatever else our Loving Lord lays on your heart to pray.

Little Lesson Life Expression
Our Loving Lord wants us to be genuinely concerned about those around us. If all we offer them is idle chit-chat, how will they know we care? How will they know that we are concerned enough to bare their burdens? What will you do with the challenge today? Will you offer idle words or words of compassion and care?

Proverbs 16:21 (The Message)
A wise person gets known for insight;
gracious words add to one's reputation.

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