When you ask someone "how are you?" you may mean many different things.
- you can mean - I'm being polite right now but please move on quickly so I can eat
- you can mean - I used to know you and back then I cared, but now I've lost touch with you and don't have enough time to REALLY go through your life details
- you can mean - I'm only asking you, so that you ask me
- you can mean - I really care - please tell me
Our intention was somewhere in the middle. This couple had always been a part of our school life at Mansfield Christian School so we knew their entire family and were curious how they were. What we didn't realize is how moving their story would be.
They started out bravely and dissolved into tears before their story ended. Their adult daughter was suffering with spine cancer. She had gotten to the place where she could no longer care for her 11 year old daughter and had been trying during her suffering to decide what would be best for her.
Finally she asked her parents if they would take her daughter home to live with them. They did.
I cannot imagine for a moment how excruciating it would be to realize you could no longer care for your own child.
They talked about the struggle to drive back and forth out of town to be at the hospital with their daughter while trying to help their very scared and confused granddaughter adjust to a knew town and school. As they ended they kept saying, "but our God is faithful and loving..."
As they walked away we were silent for quite a while and when we finally spoke I wiped tears from my eyes as I looked at my Christmas to-do list laying beside us on the table. Talk about perspective. I felt almost ashamed at how trivial my day looked in comparison to the way they would be spending their next few days.
Their Christmas would be somewhere between trying to create a Christmas for their grand-daughter and trying to figure out how to celebrate Christmas with a dying daughter...
Many people will be in difficult places of suffering or loneliness during the fast approaching holiday weekends..ask them "how they are", and really hear what they tell you and perhaps more importantly, what they don't.