If I’m not ok, will you offer me your loaves and fish?

Polite society demands that when we run into a friend, we ask how they are doing.

Polite society then requires our friend to respond with a short and sweet, and often untrue, answer.

What good does that do any of us?

If we are not willing to open up and admit our infallibility to say that we hurt, to admit to failure to our friends in a time of need, why in the world do we bother to build relationships?

This topic came to mind this past week as the inimitable Lisa-Jo of the Gypsy Mama wrote about being real with folks (italics mine):

Telling people how you’re really doing takes coming out of the nooks and crannies of your own life. Brush off that thing you didn’t do and that insecurity you were comfortably hiding behind and open your mouth to say what you really mean, not what you think they really wanted to hear.

Funny how sometimes they turn out to be the same thing.

It can be uncomfortable to say the least.

But if we’re willing to test the waterproof mascara and tell it like we live it, not like we wish we lived it, then maybe we can meet in the middle.

Ah, yes.

Tell it like we live it, not like we wish we lived it.

Wise—and possibly very scary—words.

Over at Incourage, Deidra wrote an inspiring response to Lisa-Jo about admitting to being Unfine:

So on Monday morning, when my colleague asked me how I was, I took a deep breath and said, “Oh, you know. Crazy day ahead.” Those two sentences were like the key that opened up her heart. She shared with me the struggles of her workload, and then some of her frustrations with her family, and some of her deepest hurts. It was amazing. And beautiful. Right there in the cafeteria of a major corporation, with microwaves beeping and the Today Show talking to us from the television on the wall.

I was reminded of a time when a friend called me on the spur of the moment to see if we could get together. I already had plans, so I declined, but breezily asked how she was.  She started to say ok, but lost her voice and composure in a heartbeat. I asked my question again, only this time, the ritual politeness was gone, replaced by true concern. Choking up, she managed to say she was having a tough day, but she would be fine. I told her I would call when I was free.

In short order I realized my friend had asked for my help in a time of need, and I was too busy.

Rather than spending the rest of the day wondering how she was and kicking myself for failing her, I just did a little quick shuffling and jumped in my car to make a visit, even though it was going to be short.

She was surprised and delighted when I appeared at her door, and I asked her to tell me what was going on. We spent our brief time sharing, laughing, crying a little more and offering support and suggestions.

Just as Deidra’s six, small words opened the door to an amazing conversation with her co-worker, so did the few words that passed between my friend and I.

I was so very grateful that she called me, that she felt I had something worthwhile—my own five loaves and two fish, like the little boy in the parable—to help her out of where she was.

So next time when we are asked how we are, we need to step bravely through that open door, and answer with honesty, and allow our friends to lend their helping hands and hearts, and loaves and fishes to us.

And remember what happened in the parable: the young boy’s seemingly meager offering was multiplied to feed 5,000.

Is it possible that your honesty and/or help will continue to ripple forward and multiply to encourage others?


Question for today: Are you ready to admit to being unfine when you are asked how you are? Comment away, and let us know how it goes and we can help one another.

Sharing at No Ordinary Blog Hop, Better Mom, Women Living Well, Things I Can’t Say

Image credit- h.koppdelaney via Flickr

Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish. A total of 5,000 men and their families were fed from those loaves! — Mark 6:41-44 NLT

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  1. This tells me about the power of transparency in our own lives, Kim. By being vulnerable with others, we can give a gift. And by slowing down the pace of our own lives, so we have time to truly listen, we can also share a gift. And, as you’ve reminded us, it doesn’t take much! Just being aware helps.

  2. Being transparent, aware, and listening. I wonder if the transparency is the hardest for each of us to do, since we suffer from pride and don’t want to be hurt. I also wonder if listening is the hardest from the friend’s perspective. Really good, intentional listening is really an art, and we just really like be the ones talking, generally!
    Thanks for adding to the conversation, Ann!

  3. I know I often don’t admit when I’m not doing well. I’m sure that people an see it on my face but I really feel like I would be burdening someone with all of my baggage so I hold it inside. I even hold it inside from people in my life who are close to me like my hubby. I do have a few key and close friends that I open up to and am incredibly transparent. It is certainly an issue of pride. We all want to keep the front of “okayness”.

    • You have said a mouthful, Keya! We feel like such a burden to others, and yet this scripture comes to mind to prick at my conscience: Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NLT.
      I am glad you let go of your pride and that you have folks you open up to. What would have to happen so you could open up to your hubby?
      Thanks for coming by and sharing!

  4. I’m totally with Lisa-Jo and all that you share here. It is time to live honestly unfine, and yet not totally undone because of who Christ is and what HE has DONE. I’m starting my new journey of keeping it real, from the heart online today, which was definitely inspired by inRL retreat. Come over and join me!


    • Hi Lisa, and welcome to my happy corner! What a wonderful thing that the inRL retreat inspired you onward to a new journey! I’ve been over to your blog, and you are doing great work mentoring young women and encouraging moms to be mentors. I love how we are able to inspire one another, and the ripples of goodness continue on far beyond what we can see!

  5. I wonder what would happen if we started expecting different results? Or if we meant to receive a real answer when we ask a real question? I wonder how many walls would break down and how many relationships restored. And I wonder how much more often we would be open to talking to Jesus if we lived our lives more out loud.

    • Great questions, Jen! The general rule of thumb is that we get what we expect, so I love the idea of expecting a real answer when we ask a real question. What if our friends and co-workers came to know us as the person who really did care how you were doing? What then? I would guess really good things-new, improved and renewed relationships, more openness, less opportunity for bitterness and gossip.
      Thanks for stopping by from your crazy busy life. I love hearing your perspective!

  6. Hi Kim,

    This is the 2nd time I’ve hopped to your site, and this post spoke to me today. I love the “tell it like it is, not like how you wish it was” and I admit that I’m guilty of answering with a flippant “fine” because 1) I don’t think they really want to know, and 2) I don’t always want to talk about it.

    Thanks for the reminder to view those chats as opportunities to encourage and be encouraged.

    • It’s good to see you again, Susan. I agree that there are times when folks probably don’t want to really know. But…what if we asked like we meant it?
      Since I wrote this post and the follow up on tips to help friends, I have been more intentional about how I ask and how I respond. Then, if someone wants to share or listen, I have opened the door to that conversation.
      I figure the more of us who ask and answer with intention, the more we can support each other! :-)

      • So true! I’ve been convicted about that since my “beggars at the gate” post. Too many hurting people, and not enough of us who are willing to share and get involved.
        Thanks, Kim!

  7. Oh, this is wonderfully said. Truth is so potent, capable of changing lives if we allow it. If we’re willing to be real and willing to allow others to be real with us.

    • Absolutely, Natasha! Thanks for coming by and sharing. The opportunity to open the door begins with us. I encourage you to open that door today!

  8. Oh those posts totally struck me as well. I’m working hard at opening doors a little more.

    • So true, Stacey! It just takes opening them even a little bitty bit at a time, and before you know it, there is a whole lot of sunlight and love pouring in!

  9. Yes! Be willing to share and willing to accept the sharing are so vital!

  10. I encourage you, too, to step out and share a little more today, Paula! We all have to start somewhere, and I think our courage and encouragement are contagious! Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

  11. I love that you made time to visit with a friend when she needed you. That’s real friendship. It’s tough to go to that transparent level with folks! (visiting from Allume link-up)

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