Once, when the night was particularly nasty along Interstate 65 between Birmingham and Nashville, two drivers were startled by a large herd of deer on the roadway, and entered the rain-swept and fog-enshrouded median from opposite directions at mile marker 364 with such perfectly matched choreography that they met in a somewhat grinding collision before slowly coming to rest. Miraculously it seems, both drivers emerged and walked to meet in the breakdown lane.
The first to speak was a visitor from Indiana. He showed great concern for the other driver’s condition, and was relieved to hear the drawling response of the local farmer, “I reckon I’m beat up some, and my car is sure a mess, but I expect it’ll be alright after a while. How about you? You doing okay?” The Northern visitor said, in his urbane and polished voice, learned from the best professors at Purdue University, “I’d have to say I’m more shaken than stirred, Sir, but my car is badly damaged, and I shall miss arriving in Gulf Shores tomorrow. What shall we do now?”
The farmer scratched his stubble of a beard while he appeared to think about it, and then he exclaimed, “Why, look at me and my lack of manners! Here you are, just minding your business passing through here going to the beach, and I get into a wreck with you, and it’s raining and cold, and I bet you could use a little warming up.”
The Boilermaker answered, “Yes, Sir, indeed, I am chilled to the marrow of my bones. What do you suggest?”
“Well, I’ll tell you. I just happen to have a pint hip-flask of some prime Limestone County moonshine whiskey here, and I reckon we could share a snort right about now.” With his innate curiosity the vacationing Hoosier replied that would be a real treat for him, as he had never imbibed anything stronger than “Boston Lager” and the like.
The farmer handed the flask over, and the young gentleman took a small sip, which immediately evoked a long fit of coughing and struggling for breath, so unaccustomed he was from his dearth of experience. “Why, son, that’s okay. Shine can have that effect the first time a fellow tries it. What you have to do is take a couple more quick sips, and that’ll help you get over the shock.”
Even though surprised at the man’s generosity with his whiskey, the youngster took several more sips, each larger than the one before, until he finally remembered his manners and said, “Sir, I seem to have drunk almost all of your exquisite liquor, and you have had none. Don’t you want to take the rest of it, at least?”
To which the local man, possibly uneducated but not unsophisticated, said, “No, son, I guess what I’d better do is call the Highway Patrol and report this. I’ll take my share after they finish the investigation. You just hold on to my Daddy’s flask so it won’t get lost,” as he took out his cell phone and calmly punched,
It occurs to me that I've been doing something completely awful, and doing it often, for practically all my life, and now it's time to come clean about it. Here we go.
Every day, my experience has been that some number of people will ask me, "How are you doing?" It's probably safe to say that the same thing is true of you. How do I most often answer that question? How do you answer it most often? I expect that I know the answer, "I'm just fine, doing well, how are you?"
We're going to leave aside the question regarding the sincerity of what those other people ask us, because it's pretty common knowledge that they could not care less how we are doing; they are just being "polite". Now, really, isn't that the truth? Honestly, have you ever answered to the effect that you're having an awful time of things and received anything like an interested query in return? My guess is that you have not.
From time to time I answer with, "I'm doing just fine, thanks to Jesus. Otherwise, not so well at all." Of course, that is absolutely true, but I don't think it goes far enough, in some way.
What if I simply answered with the whole truth? How about this for an honest reply: "I'm the dirtiest, rottenest, sorriest, meanest, most evil and putrid and self-centered sinner that ever drew clean air and got one heartbeat or brain wave laid after another, and I deserve none of it and ought to have died and gone straight to Hell a long time ago." I just might get the chance to follow that with, "But Jesus took care of all of that, and that's what I want you to know, because it is all that matters."
(Yes, of course, they're long out of earshot by the time I have said all of that. So possibly some refinement is in order.)
Now, that is simply honesty. It might be brutal, and it might be other things. But one thing it is not is dishonest. In the end it is also neither disinterested nor unloving.
Do you think such an answer might provoke your questioner to at least think about the more important things? I think it is more possible that might happen than it is if we just keep answering, with a smile, "I'm doing great! How about you?"
Good Lord! Why would someone I had just lied to want to hear anything more from me?
What do you think?