I know I am not correct on many things, just ask the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. If I could be right as many times as I am wrong, I would be a genius. The problem is, I am more wrong than I am right, which puts me a little bit out of balance.
People always say things they really do not mean. I guess they are just trying to be nice and courteous.
For instance. My wife will say as I leave the door to go somewhere, “Drive safely.”
I do not know what that means. Does she think I am going to drive like an idiot? Well, maybe that is not a good illustration.
Another one is, if you are going to a party someone will say, “Have fun.”
Does that mean they are under the impression that you are not going to have fun unless you are enticed? Why do people always say things like that?
We always say things that we do not mean.
Of course, I am always a little guarded about certain things my wife may say to me. The most infamous one would be, “Does this dress make me look fat?” I am not sure who came up with that one, but their head was not spinning in the right direction.
After thinking about that for a little bit I am under the impression that if anyone asks me that question, particularly if it is my wife, they are not looking for the right answer. They are looking for a compliment.
Is it more important to tell the truth or to encourage someone? That has always been my dilemma.
One question has bugged me for a long time. I must confess that I have done it myself, but it still bugs me. It is when we meet somebody and say, “Hello, how are you doing?”
Why do we say something like that? Whenever I asked somebody how they are doing, I really do not want them to tell me how they are doing. I am trying to be courteous and friendly. I do not want to know the details of their life.
As I said, I find myself saying the very same thing. I am trying to get over this phrase-addiction and probably need several months in some rehabilitation center. It would be worth it to get this out of my conversation.
I do not know if I was just having a bad day or if I was just fed up with this question. Not long ago I was coming out of the grocery store and somebody greeted me and said, “Hello, how are you doing today?”
Something came over me. To this day I cannot explain what in the world made me do what I did. But I did it and there it is.
I could tell the person who asked the question was in a hurry to get into the grocery store but I did it anyway. He asked me how I was and so I stopped him and told him how I was.
“I’m glad you asked,” I started, “because I’m not feeling very well today.” I noticed he was trying to get beyond me, but I was going to have my say no matter what.
“I hurt my big toe this morning, I think I broke a toenail. I’ve been limping all day long and I’m getting rather tired of it.”
He looked at me and then glanced at the grocery store, but I pretended as if I did not see.
“I got up this morning,” I continued as though I had nothing else in the world to do, “with my back hurting so much I could hardly get out of bed. I’m not so sure what happened, but boy does it really hurt.”
He looked at his watch and then looked at the grocery store entrance again, but I continued to pretend I did not see it.
“My day hasn’t gone very well,” I complained to him, “I just seem to be late for everything. I missed my appointment at the doctor this morning and I’m not sure when I’m going to get back to see that doctor.”
I could see he was getting very nervous and borderline agitated. He tried to interrupt me, but I pretended I did not notice.
“I don’t know what I’m gonna do with my car. There’s a big noise rattling in the engine and I’m not sure if I should take it in or what I should do with it.”
“Well,” he said rather anxiously, “I gotta get into the store.” With that, he briskly walked away muttering.
I am sure he talked about that all they long to his friends. He probably thought I was crazy. Sometimes it is good to be crazy. After all, he is the one that asked me how I was. If he did not want to know how I was, why did he ask me how I was?
I chuckled to myself and then I got thinking about my prayer life. I wonder how many times I do that in my prayer life. I pray about something, but I really am not that interested in it.
I wonder if Jesus had this in mind when he said, “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22).
Prayer is not meaningless gibberish, but faith-focused asking.
Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores.