An interesting aspect to people is their proclivity toward hypocrisy. By that I mean we say one thing but we really do not mean it or it does not really apply to us personally.
I was complaining about this to the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage this past week.
“Why is it,” I said most curiously, “people really don’t mean what they say?”
She responded by saying, “I always mean what I say.”
Being the kind of husband that I am, I refused to contradict her reply. Therefore, I am not referring to her in these comments. People just don’t say what they mean.
For the past month, I’ve been having issues with shingles and nerve pain all the way down my right arm. It’s very painful and I hope it goes away soon. Let it be clear that pain and me are not friends. The sooner the pain leaves, the better it’s going to be for me.
But I digress. My condition has been a very clear focus of my life these days. After all, it’s my pain that I have to live with every day.
It happened just the other day when somebody that I was passing on my way into Publix said to me, “Hi, how are you doing?”
Well, I thought to myself, he asked so I begin to tell him about my condition and all of the aspects associated with it. Within a few moments I could tell he was not very much interested in how I was doing.
I continued with all of the details and then he suddenly looked at his watch and said, “That’s interesting, but I am late for an appointment and I have to leave right now.”
Well, okay, but after all, he asked the question I didn’t. If he wasn’t interested in how I was doing, why did he ask?
See how people say things they don’t really mean?
This happened to me several times with people I had never met before. They asked the question about how I was doing, when I began telling them how I was doing, they had no real interest in how I was doing.
That rather frustrated me. How I was doing was a very important aspect of my life and sharing my pain with someone else was something I wanted to do. However, nobody was interested in my pain.
It brought me down to a point of discouragement. I had to stay home for several days because of the condition I was in. I could not drive and so I stayed home.
Then something different opened up for me.
As I was sitting there, reveling in my displeasure and discomfort, the telephone rang.
I answered the phone and it was somebody trying to sell me something. They began by saying, “Hello, how are you doing today?”
That is all I needed to hear. I began to tell him exactly how I was doing with all of the pain and discomfort I was experiencing. I went on and on even though several times he tried to interrupt my little speech. He asked and so I was telling.
Three minutes into my little speech, I heard the telephone go “click” and there was nobody on the other end of the line.
I sat back in my chair and smiled rather deeply. Why did this person asked me how I was doing if he wasn’t interested in it?
It was quite an afternoon, I’ll tell you that. I don’t know if the word got out that I was sick and at home, but the phone rang constantly all afternoon. Everybody asked me, “Hello, how are you doing?” And, I told them how I was doing.
All that afternoon I dominated the conversation of every telephone solicitor that called. I never allowed them to get a word in edge wise because they asked me how I was doing and I was going to tell them.
My wife came home from the office and saw me smiling.
“What in the world,” she said as she walked towards me, “are you smiling about?”
“All afternoon,” I explained to her, “people were calling me asking me how I was. And so I spent all afternoon telling these people exactly how I was.” I then chuckled.
She just looked at me and then broke out laughing herself.
I found out the telemarketers are not really interested in “How you are.” All they’re interested in is selling something I really don’t need. But I enjoyed the day telling them how I was doing.
That’s the way it is with most people today. They say one thing but they really do not mean it. They do not want to know how I am doing. It is just something they politely say when they do not know what else to say.
David understood this when he wrote, “They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak” (Psalm 12:2).
How often does this happen in our daily life.
Then David said this about himself, “My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding” (Psalm 49:3).
As I was sitting in my chair nursing my pain, I came to at least one conclusion. I am not going to ask people how they are unless I really want to know how they are.