We get up in the morning at a set time.
We wrestle the kids out of bed (or vice versa).
We may go to school or to the office.
Or we keep the household running (an even harder job for Moms everywhere).
Once the work day starts, we are running around all day.
On the weekends, we rally the family to activities and maybe to church.
We have places we try to get to at a set time.
It may be a meeting conference room or a grocery store.
It may be the little league field or a girl school meeting.
It may be the gym or a college lecture.
No single day, of course, ever goes exactly according to plan.
But the earth rotates at the same pace for everyone, and eventually we call it a day.
The next morning, we start it all over.
Every new day, we have control over where we are going.
What is unpredictable is who crosses our path en route to our destinations.
We bump into a friend in line at Starbucks.
We see a familiar face on the metro bus.
We run into a co-worker on the elevator.
We knock into our neighbor’s shopping cart at the grocery store.
We run into someone we know at the ballpark (photo herein from MLBlogs Network).
When we are trying to get someplace else, we seem hard wired to ask the proverbial question in a hasty tone: How are you?
Our inquiry is usually sincere, but the underlying translation may really be…
I’m kind of in a rush, but it is nice to see you.
The Problem is the Question
How are you? ranks right up there with other useless questions spoken in a rush…
How’s your day?
Nice weather, isn’t it?
How are you doing?
These questions are useless because the responses are useless…
What’s up? Not much.
How’s your day? It’s good.
Nice weather, isn’t it? Indeed it is.
How are you doing? I’m fine.
Try a Different Question
If you accept there is more to life than complete randomness (and if you don’t believe that, I dare you to try this experiment as well)…
When you “accidentally” run into someone you know this week, avoid any question that accommodates a one or two-word response.
Instead, discover something that matters.
And you will discover why you were there at that moment.
Here’s what I like to ask…
So, what’s been on your mind lately?
Without fail when I ask this question, I make two observations.
One, I never get a terse one or two-word response.
Nobody has ever responded “Nothing”.
Why? Because we’re always thinking about something!
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)
Two, everybody has something heavy on their heart.
It may be a family member fighting illness.
Or the person has a big exam coming up.
Or they are under stress for financial or emotional reasons.
Other days, they have something to celebrate!
You Are There for a Reason
When you discover the something that matters, take action.
Consider the immediate impact of a kind word or two of encouragement.
Or you may know a resource that may help them.
Or you may offer to pray for them (I’ve started to do that for real).
Or simply cheer for them!
Remember what Jesus commanded his disciplines to do:
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
Avoid useless questions and you will receive useful responses.
And then make a difference at that moment.
What are your thoughts and experience?
What questions do you like to ask others?
Stay connected and inspired!
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