She showed up at my front door. Unannounced with this in her hand:
“How are you really, Kristen?”
Now let me just say, normally I am ALL ABOUT THE CUPCAKE.
But something unusual happened: she waited for me to tell her. Really tell her.
And while the cupcake caught my interest, her words grabbed my heart.
I couldn’t remember the last time someone had added that word –the one that changed the trite question I hear every single day.
And so we stood at the door for a long time, me gripping sugar, tasting salt, pouring it out.
She waited for my words. The ones that I longed to say. And she just listened. Nodding her head, tilting it with empathy. And then she hugged me, told me she would pray.
I thanked her for the goodie, but mostly for asking and listening.
Sometimes we just need to be heard. I closed my front door, lighter with the burden I didn’t know I was bottling up, keeping in. I usually just nod my head with, “Yes, I’m good. Everything’s great.” I didn’t even know I was waiting on someone to really ask.
Today, you’re either in one place or the other: You sit reading these words and the salt pools and you are silently begging yes, please ask me. The burden is so heavy. Or you need to find the neighbor, friend, lonely mom after school, and ask, How are you, really?
Because I will tell you, I walked away from that experience, wondering how many women in my life are waiting on me to:
Ask (the question). Wait (for an answer). Listen (to her cares). Pray (for her).
With our rushing and racing, we miss this opportunity and fill the space with empty words and continue in a secluded pain that isn’t God’s ideal for the Body of Christ.
We are the body. You. Me. And we need to carry one another’s burdens.
So, tell me, how are you doing?
by Kristen Welch, We are THAT family
*photo source (because did you really think I would take a picture before I ate the choco chip cupcake??)Leave a Comment
Patty McCabe says
I like you I just keep it bottled up inside. How am I really? Well, I am hurt, tired, and somewhat lonely at times. I have been married for 26 yrs. and my marriage really stinks anymore. We’ve been thru counseling in the early millienum years…didn’t really help because he thinks it’s all my fault. He’s a man who only wants someone around to listen to his complaints, do his dishes, wash his clothes, and work out of the house for an income. Wow!! I said all of that without stopping!! I try very hard to not be the one to allow the past bother me but when I lost the only job I ever had (had been there 22 yrs. in 2003) I just haven’t been able to let go. I ask God but it seems the more I ask Him to help me let go the more it bothers me and hurts me. I am tired of all the old rubbish and that’s what it is garbage!! Physically Ihave been sick the past few years and really can’t afford to go to the doctor’s (wheather a dentist, physchian(sp), or eye doctor). I am physically tired all the time not sleeping more than 5 hrs. at a time. and haven’t had any energy to do hardly anything. I work at night from 6p.m. to 1 a.m. and I had never did that before. I miss people who were my friends who have moved away or who have
Patty McCabe says
quit coming to my house because they no longer go to the church we all met in. It makes it very lonely when people you knew that you could rely on are now gone out of your life. We just changed churches the Sunday after Easter 2011 and I haven’t found a Women’s Bible Study that I could go to in the mornings. I am just very weary and worn out …. My mother passed away in 2006 and my father has been coming to my house ever once a week since then to have his bills wrote out and his check book balanced. I would not change this for the world. I don’t mind doing that. He use to expect us to go shopping at Sam’s Club once a month and to the mall when he needed to go but I have finally convienced my 49 yr. old brother to bring him up on Sat. evenings to eat out and go to Sam’s Club or the mall with him.
Juast Pray for me…Please…sorry I told you so much..Thank you for listening..and may God Bless you at INcourage.
We are THAT family says
Patty, I am praying for you today. That He will fill those empty places.
Thank you Kristen.
I just wanna give you a hug.
Thanks for that hug Leslie. I really need it right now. I know life will get better one of these days. He promises that.
Betty Draper says
Oh Patty, I just want to hug you too…..you told what you heart was burden with and I pray it feels a littler lighter, not because things have changed but because you are allowing us sister in the Lord into your pain and now we can pray for you effectively.
Betty Draper says
I can relate for just the other night a dear friend ask me that same question that Kristin has ask us, she was the exact perfect one to ask me and I took her up on the question. we went into a room at church and I unloaded just as you did and she listened. When I ended my lamenting she said oh Betty I have been praying how to pray for you. You have been bottled up with some pain you are carrying and i just did not know how to pray..holy chills raised on my arm for I knew God was so in the question, my sharing, her prayers. I cannot express the lift in my spirit that came as I walked out that room. Just knowing someone with skin on is praying on purpose for me and the pain I carry in my heart. I am encouraged to on purpose ask the same question of a women God has laid on my heart.
Thanks Kristin for your post,….freedom flows my sister because you exercised courage and allow God to control what you post. Yes we are family, the body of Christ and with God’s help I plan to love on my family.
Betty so glad someone has asked you that question and they are praying for you. I will do the same. That’s what Christian’s are suppose to do.
Oh, I am so sorry for all of your pain. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.
Patty, i too have been in pretty much your spot. It is a lonely, empty place and i found myself sinking deeper and deeper. I would hide in my closet and weep or drive around to the country and stand outside and wail! No longer was i the confident, organized efficient loving mom – i was tired, weary and alone. Not even sure what my children did during that time or where they were! It was the dark night of the soul which seemed to go on and on.
The wierd thing is that even though people wanted to help – none of their help – helped. So they quit trying. Now that i am passed all that – and it did take some time and drastic decisions i am realizing that much of what was going on was and can be ‘blamed’ on pre menopause. If this is where you think you may be I would highly recommend going to a doctor. I would highly recommend finding a support group of women who are going through pre/menopause. I did read books – but having a support group I believe would have been a saving measure. A group of women who have been there and are going through it. One other thought – when or if you go again to counseling with your husband mention the stage of life you are going through. Husbands need to be educated on this stage of life! Women change and can do nothing about it – they need to know that. They need to be able to see us through different glasses – to see the person they married as a person who is being held hostage by the changes in their body.
Finally, Patty, I am praying for you – sometimes when people would tell me that i would be a sceptic – but now i see those prayers were truly what held me up and kept me from going over the edge. God IS still in control – let Him take the reins – clutch onto His coattails and relax.
Hmmm, how am I? Well, it’s only honest to admit I am not happy in life. I go up and down and the last couple of days I have been telling God that really I am not happy or content. He is not leaving me but I struggle in life. How I long to have a friend who would just show up and my doorstep and draw me out. How wonderful if I would have a friend that I could sit on the couch with for hours and shares hearts. It’s a deep longing and because I am not married at age 38 the longing is there even stronger I think. I long to share and not have to battle life alone so much. I have much on my plate, work with stress and school where I really long for home making. I am getting out there with church life and dating but God… Please fulfill these hearts desires for me. I don’t want to be so alone.
We are THAT family says
MCH- your words hit me hard, heavy. Please know you up being HELD today.
thank you :: really!
Thank you for sharing this post…I could feel myself tear up when I read this, because all weekend that was the question I hoped someone would ask and have time to listen to the answer
We are THAT family says
I understand. Really, I do. Give it to Him. He cares for you.
We moved about a year ago, and I have no one to ask me that question. In a way, I’m glad. It would be too much, to open up the floodgates and really share how I am. I’m afraid once the tears started, they’d never stop. Someday…
We are THAT family says
Praying you make a new friend today.
Penny, Praying God will help you find that friend or those friends who you can share what’s really bothering you.
Lisa H says
anxious, in pain-physically, exhausted, tired of complaining, needing-aching to be loved and cared for by a man, not any man but the one God knows is out there for me. I’m tired of being bank, driver, mom, nurse, handyman, cook, maid, disciplinarian, fun time planner, etc. etc. etc. I really want someone to share these roles with right now!
Thanks for posting, I do have a couple of friends who look at me and know to ask ‘how are you, REALLY?’ just when I need to be asked and I love it.
We are THAT family says
sounds like you need a wife, Lisa! I can totally relate. Lifting you up today.
Me? Really? Not good. You see my dad passed away two weeks ago. Even though I know he is rejoicing in heaven with Jesus, pain free right now… I just do not know how not to be sad.
Shelly, my heart aches for you this morning. I never knew the joy of having a dad that loved me. My dad wanted a boy, thus from the moment I was born I was nothing but a disappointment for him. I have to confess I’m always a little envious of anyone who had a Daddy that loved them. You had that, I’m guessing. You should be sad, it’s ok to be sad, don’t try to not be sad. Instead take your sadness to Jesus, share it with Him. Over time He will transform it and reshape it into more than you ever imagined. Your heart aches because your spirit knows we were meant for more than this, we were made for eternity, and when someone we love leaves, our hearts know that it just wasn’t supposed to be this way. I know these words probably don’t help, but I will be praying for you, every morning and evening. He is able to do that which my feeble words cannot.
Shelly – I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my dad on Easter Sunday to cancer. He was 57. I, too, rejoice for him as he is pain free – but I miss him more than words could ever express.
Penny – “Your heart aches because your spirit knows we were meant for more than this, we were made for eternity, and when someone we love leaves, our hearts know that it just wasn’t supposed to be this way.” Your words have touched my heart!! Thank you for sharing.
We are THAT family says
There is a season for everything. Yours is grief. I’m so sorry for your loss. Don’t hurry thru it. You’re not alone, He is with you.
Praying for you Shelly. There is a time for everything. I know another person going thru this right now and I told her. You have to be sad for some awhile. God wants us all to take time to mourn.
Thanks for this. Last week I had a friend ask the same thing and all of a sudden I was in tears. I didn’t really know I had so much on my mind. I immediately felt better and hoped I could do the same for someone else. Thanks for the encouragement!
Me? I’m not good. I wish I had that person who would come to my door and ask. Thank you for this post. I did email my sister-in-law. She is my person. You know, that one that you can go to anytime, anywhere, no matter what. She is my personal prayer warrior when I know I just need someone.
We are THAT family says
praying for you today, Angie.
To answer that question almost feels like admitting defeat. I feel beaten today. I am struggling with anxiety over silly mothering things – like the thought of my daughter getting a stomach bug. Just hearing it’s going around has me on pins and needles and sick myself – just the thought of her getting it. I’m so afraid I’m going to do something wrong or miss something and something will happen to her. I know there’s no reason to fear. I know it’s goofy. Yet, I can’t get by it. It’s almost paralyzing. I just keep praying and praying for some sort of relief and reassurance. But still… I just feel like a horrible mom.
We are THAT family says
honesty is never defeat–it’s the beginning of victory.
praying for you, Kim. You are a good mom, don’t believe anything less.
I wrote this for my blog after reading your wonderful devotional this morning.
This morning as I was reading a devotional, I had an insight. I was reading an article from (in)courage website that was entitled “How are You, Really?” and hit home. It was about a woman who asked her friend “How are you, really?” and the friend let it all go. As I sat there reading it, not only did I long to be able to be able to do that with someone as well as for someone. But then I started thinking about my life and wondering, How I doing, really? To be honest with myself, I’m overwhelmed and tired, and long for something to connect me to my life.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and kids I wouldn’t trade them for the world. But the only time I feel completely at peace is when I immerse myself in the Lord’s word. I strive to be so many things, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a student…the list could go on from there. But as I sit daily asking for God to make me better in those areas, I had a light bulb moment. Or maybe it was an angel knocking me in the head.
I don’t need to strive in these areas any longer. If I follow God and His word, His teachings, and listen to His will, then He will make me better in those areas. We cannot do things by our own will, they have to come through God.
“ So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
“The LORD is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”
So from now on, instead of asking daily to make me better in the different areas of my life, I will ask the Lord to create me to be the woman that He wants me to be. As I grow into this woman, all these other aspects in my life will fall into place. By being with the Lord, and walking with Him, I will be better in these other facets of my life. There is no need for me to strive or agonize over how I feel I’m not measuring up. Only through the Lord, our God, can make me into the woman he has intended me to be.
Thanks for that. Really struggling right now to be a wife, mum, employee…everything……
Been also thinking about the Pam thum song: Life is Yard but God is Good.
I am worried about my mom, who seems keen on being up satisfied.
I am nervous about leaving my kids for 5 night-nights.
I am excited about a getaway with my husband.
I am cautiously anticipating an answer to a deep, financial prayer this week.
I am glad I read this post and grateful for friends who ask and listen 🙂
Kelly, lifting you up today
I am one of those people that always says “oh I’m fine” to this sort of question but today if someone asks me “how are you really?” I feel like the floodgates will just open and I won’t stop! I feel deserted by God and silly family things seem 100% worse today, argument with husband and children growing up, I don’t want to be a grown up anymore!!!!
Thank you for your post, it has really helped me xxxxx
This was beautiful, and timely, sweet sister-friend. Thank you for these words today….
I desperately want to be asked how I am REALLY doing, and all my friends are telling me they don’t want to hear my heart hurts. I don’t want to burden people, but it would be lovely for someone to say that they care enough to ask, listen, understand, and pray. I don’t need advice, I just want to be heard and to know that someone cared enough to know how I really am by just asking. I feel so lonely in this sorority house…
Lisa H says
It took a long time for me to believe this but if your friends tell you they do not want to hear your heart hurts then really what kind of friend are they? I now have friends who I can share with and tell them up front, I just need you to listen to me, no advice-yet-but just hear me. All the swirling vortex of emotions and unrealistic needs, wishes, whatever! Just listen please. They do this. Then they pray with me because at that point I have no more words, not even for God. But he understands that too!
thank you for making me so much more aware to ask that question more often and to make time to listen and pray – I will also take time to bring my own needs to the Lord and to trusted friends to help me let the tension go too!! We need each other, right!? thank you for such a heart warming, caring post!! God bless you and your family!
Really? I am torn. Torn between children I love and want to care for and a job that I wonder if I should be doing. Torn because there are so many paths before me and my family and we just don’t know which one to choose. Torn because we feel a calling to make a change, but don’t know if we are hearing correctly or even have the courage to take that first step. Thank you for asking, because I just needed to put the words down for someone to listen. I pray for everyone feeling so much of the same today.
I so understand this. Living in the torn place…learning to live by grace
Tracy Stoffell says
Thanks for sharing this post. How am I you ask? Well, to be honest I doing good. Today I have been married to my husband for 19 wonderful years. I have a son whom I adore and is my heart. Yes, I have dreams and desires that I want to accomplish. I desire to have more girl friends in my life who also desire more than just surface friendship. I have to say I am doing well. Thanks for asking.
I have a certain few friends that will truly ask and wait for the answer. I am blessed to have them. I do bottle things up and not tell people what is going on inside my heart, although I am getting better at sharing it is still hard NOT to just say “fine” put on the mask and keep going like nothing is wrong.
Oh and I didn’t tell you how I am and answer your question — I am struggling with forgiving myself for a mistake. I am struggling to believe God’s promises of love, acceptance, and commitments.
I loved your post! It makes me feel so good when a true friend asks how I am REALLY doing. Someone who isn’t subscriped to the latest gossip blog but someone I can trust to really open myself up too. I would like to be asker of that question to more people–but sometimes it feels that when I do reach out, they don’t really want to open themselves up to allow the REALLY part to show. Doesn’t stop me from trying, but it can feel discouraging.
It’s been ages since I’ve been asked how I’m REALLY doing and now today I read this and I read about the mask of “fine” in Grace for the Good Girl all in the same day. Really, I’m happy most of the time. I have been changing up the way my life is ordered this past year and so sometimes I feel overwhelmed because even good change is scary. And I’m a new blogger (more change). And I’m settling into a new community and trying to make friends, which has its happy moments but also a lot of very lonely ones.
And yes – whenever someone comes along to ask how I’m REALLY doing – whether it’s online or offline IRL – I cherish it. And I hope I can be this for others in my life, too.
lisa raftery says
Thanks for a post that obviously hit home with readers! Thankfully, you caught me on a full but good day. I’m doing well, really : ), despite the fact that laundry mountain, dishes piled in the sink, and hours of computer work still await me once the kids are tucked in! LOL
Thanks for reminding us that a listening ear, understanding heart, and prayer partner can gives us a much-needed reset. I’m reminded to be honest when overwhelmed and to reach out more than ever with that simple but wonderful question…
Lindsey van Niekerk says
I love when people take the time to GIVE me this.
Great reminder for me to be proactive always in doing the same.
Ditto for me too Lindsey.
Beth Werner Lee says
That’s it! My daughter is baking cupcakes every week, and I can do this. I should be taking them to my neighbors. (we kept one in the car to give to the random person with a sign…) Thanks for the encouragement.
I’m the type of person who wants to know how others are really doing, but I feel like I’m always rushing. So I feel like everyone else is living life in a hurry with very little time for authentic conversations. I’ve been dealing with some pretty bad neck pain, home repairs, and can’t seem to get myself on a routine that works (and includes working out). I have friends, but I tend to feel like no one wants to hear *all* that. Plus, You never know what others aren’t revealing about what they’re going through. So I never want to burden anyone or appear to be complaining about anything I’m dealing with…when they could be dealing with worse. But now I know that I don’t need to feel that way. I should seek out those authentic “how are you, really?” conversations, and if anyone starts that conversation with me, should hold back. This really helped me. Thanks 🙂
How am I doing REALLY? I have an ache inside that I keep covered while I go about my day to day. It’s a “missing them” ache. I live 3,000 miles away from my family and I haven’t seen them in a year. I miss each of my children and my grandchildren that hardly know me. I feel that in their lives I am on the fringe, I am not relevant to them. I feel unnecessary to them, I am an afterthought at best to them.
I miss the “grilfriends” that I used to do fun things with. I don’t have that here. I guess it all comes down to a feeling of being lonely. A sense of being included, of someone asking me…how are you really doing.
Oh I needed to hear these words today. It is a habit that I have to find ways to ask around ‘how are you today’ to be a listener to someone who needs it. But I also know the blessing of the other side of the coin – And I am blessed that someone asked me that today. It was neither the time nor the place to talk, but she is coming to see me tomorrow. And although we haven’t even talked yet, just showing that she cares was enough to send me to the Lord today, seeking Him., giving Him those burdens. In other words, just the asking broke my wearied heart today.
Actually (though I didn’t intend to share this when I replied), this poem is the result:
recoiling in fear from the darkness within
jumping at shadows, scared that they’ll win
and extinguish all light – in herself she drowns
like an oil spill’s blackness spiralling down.
sunk in this terrible pit of her mind
peace has fled, now her reason starts to unwind
beyond hearing, past reaching, time’s running out
she’s no longer sure what has brought this about.
But in mercy, wise words gently seep to her heart
Whispers of hope show where she must start
Back to the cross, by His grace so pure
Only there can she conquer the darkness’ lure
As she waits for His touch, she hears from above
Knows He watches over her soul in love
And finally sees, with clarity new
A truth so pure, yet so certainly true:
God is light, there is no darkness found in Him
And He’s promised to always abide within
There can be no place, even deep in her soul
Where darkness can reign, or ever take hold
So she rests once more, in His arms of light
Trying to grasp by His grace and might
That He has a beautiful cloth to spin
From the threads of her soul, from the light within.
Mary J says
Zoe…this is beautiful! May I share it? I will give you credit of course! Thanking God for your gift in words…
Thanks so much for this great reminder. Sometimes it’s hard for me not to feel “put out” when someone shows up at my door unexpectedly and needs an ear. I can very easily schedule my day so tight that I don’t always have the best heart when there are interruptions. I was really reminded of this last night as one of our pastor’s wives came and poured her heart out about their many family problems. This is a family that I would’ve assumed had it all “together”. I never once thought to ask her – “how are you, really?”. Thanks for the encouragement that your post brought to me today!
Amy Pitman says
Beautiful post! Thank you…
I am feeling really worn out, emotionally. In the past couplde of months, my family’s camcorder broke, every video since Christmas-GONE, $400-$1260 to fix it. I can’t pay it, and my parents can’t either. My first year of summer camp was on it. And, well school just started again. My BFF goes to public school, so I hardly see her. My youth group split up, we lost sooo many people. It breaks my heart. And, just last Saturday, I lost al most everything on my laptop. All my reports, an essay for a contest which I had not submitted or printed, my photos, my programs (I know, but they take forever to redownload), my picturesd made in paint and picnik, and a video that took at least 10 hours to make with Muvee Reveal. At least I still have my e-mails, right? And, I just found out recently that I can only correspond with three CI kids. I can’t sponsor any, but I want to do more. I feel like God is not answering my prayers, but then I think that I am some horrible Christian. And life seems so pointless, meaningless. I really have never had a friend ask me how I was really doing, and I cannot just tell them because Hannah has enough “burdens” of her own, and how are you supposed to tell this to a friend across the country? I cry in bed at night, just lonely, I guess. I always wished for a “book” life. I am homeschooled, and it makes it really hard to be even somewhat loving to my family, I am stuck with them ALL day. Sorry, I don’t mean to whine. Thanks for reading, Lizzie
A Homeschool Mom to Teen Boys says
Lizzie, praying for you for contentment. May God open your eyes to the undeserved blessings in your life…
How am I doing? Not well at the moment.
I’m just worn out and my heart is heavy. My 81 year old Dad just had another stint put in his heart and I’m miles and miles away and not able to help. My siblings and I are trying to figure out what to do to help my Mother who will probably need to be put in assisted living. For some reason my lower back has been hurting for 3 weeks now. I’m in serious pain and it’s effecting my day-to-day activities. And I feel worthless.
I’m just so tired of hurting and feeling worthless and dealing with aging parents that I cannot help. I know that there are seasons and that this too shall pass. God will be strong where I am weak and He will keep me. I have faith in that knowledge but walking through the storm is hard.
How I’m doing, honestly? I honestly feel like I’m falling apart, either that or everything is falling apart on top me :/
This post directly spoke to me. I long for that knock @ the door. After moving 18 hrs. away from friends & family it has been more difficult than I anticipated. Thank you for such meaningful words.
Christan Perona says
Thank you so much for this truth today. I have a few on my mind that I really do need to pursue and risk awkward silence and just listen for their response. Bless you.
Julie Sunne says
Your post painted a beautiful picture, Kristen, and pointed out a huge need in our fast-paced world! It is so simple, “How are you, really?”, yet on some level, not so easy. But as the body, if we don’t ask that simple question, who will?
Great post. I have never been shy about saying what I think. How I geel has often been less than forthcoming from me. Monday I was overwhelmed with a burden and I just poured it all out in an email to some freinds I knew would listen pray and give me encouraging words in response. They did not have to ask the ? because I already knew I could unload my burden on them. What a wonderful feeling to have godly women friends.
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