I’m tired of the “F” word… the nice one that everyone is using and no one really means… the little four letter lie that has become so much a part of our everyday English language that even foreign language classes now teach it as the obligatory response to “How are you?” in English. Yes, that’s right – I’m tired of the word “fine”. It just won’t do.
You see, so many times it just isn’t true. It is the face that we put on, the mask that we wear. It is the acceptable response. Or, it is the easy way out.
I’m not buying it. So don’t give it to me. I want more than that. I want the truth. I want the real you. And I want to be real, too. So I don’t want to use the “f” word any more, at least not the one spelled
I do a lot of listening in my work. I ask a lot of questions and I do a lot of listening. And the truth is usually something much more vulnerable and transparent and real than “fine”. Sometimes conversations start out with “I’m fine”, and usually people can get away with that in most of their conversations. But not here. Not with me. Get ready, because I’m going to ask for more. I’m going to ask for the truth. I’m going to listen to you until I hear your heart.
Maybe the truth is another “f” word. Maybe your life is fantastic, or fun, or full. Maybe there are days where those words are your truth. So say it! Say something better than “fine”. Sing it out! Let it be known and heard! Don’t diminish it or belittle the fact that you are having a great day or a great week. Let us know!
Many of the folks I talk to have other “f” words. They say they are “fine”, but after a little listening, the truth is really somewhere in some other “f” words… words like frustrated, frightened, fearful, frantic and failing. Words like fleeing and finances and floundering and faking it and false come up in the conversation. And now I have a much better picture of your heart and your struggles and your tensions and stresses. Now you are real, and now I know you a little better and a little deeper. And somehow, I love you a little more because you are real.
C.S. Lewis wrote a lesser-known work entitled Till We Have Faces, which is a Greek myth retold from a different standpoint. One literary critic wrote that the main point of the story is that, “Until we learn to see ourselves clearly for who we really are, we see nothing clearly at all.” One particular quote caught my attention.
“I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer . . . Why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”
I recently heard a pastor speak on this very quote, saying that sometimes people worry that God seems to be distant or silent or passive. Yet upon further discussion, it seems that they aren’t willing to be open and real, transparent and close to Him either. They give him the “I’m fine” treatment, just like they give everyone around them. They don’t lift up the Fantastic day or the Fun time or the Fullness of their lives to Him in praise. And equally, they don’t get real with their frustrations and their fears, their frantic lifestyles or their floundering finances. And He is waiting. What seems like distance or silence or passivity is really quiet, patient waiting on His part. Waiting for the realness. Waiting for the true face to be shown. For it is only in showing Him our true face that He will turn His face toward us and allow us to see Him more fully. The intimacy of being truly face-to-face…
By the way, “face” is another one of those “f” words – let’s use it well!
Who am I? In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a Southern Living / Martha Stewart wannabe, a soccer mom, and a short term mission team coordinator / intern director for missions in Mexico... you name it, I probably tried it!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! We have three incredible children... two adult boys who live in Texas, and the Sarah (14) lives with us in whatever country we are serving. I'm still teaching, still taking photos, still leading teams and mentoring, I just do it all in full-time service now! And I'm working hard at giving Southern Living and Martha Stewart a run for their money! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers and immigrant peoples, writing, and trying to figure out what life looks like for a Texas girl serving Christ in Southern Europe. Life in His service is AWESOME! I'm happy to share it with you here... Enjoy!