I find myself having the same conversation with people almost every day. And I know I am not the only one. It’s the one that goes like this:
“Hey Tyler, how are you today?”
Without even skipping a beat, let alone stopping to think about how I am feeling in that very moment, I reply, “I am good. How are you?”
Now in this moment, am I truly concerned with how this person is doing? The answer is maybe or maybe not, usually depending on how I myself am actually feeling or how busy I am at the time. Sometimes, it comes down to how much I am truly invested in that person’s life. The same typically goes for the person on the other end as well.
The truth is this is something we feel we must do to be polite. We have to ask the other person how they are feeling, how are their families, how is their job, etc. The real question is… have we prepared ourselves for a bad answer?
We live in a time in society where mental illness is at an all-time high. Here are just a few of the highlights of statistics on mental health in the U.S.:
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults in the US struggle with a mental illness. To put that in perspective, look down the row in service on Sunday morning. Someone in your row is struggling.
The same is true with our youth (ages 13-18). 1 in 5.
Included in those statistics are Pastors, Deacons, Sunday School Teachers… nobody is exempt from the hold that mental illness can have on you. Just last month, a well-known pastor in California took his own life after losing his battle with mental illness.
I am part of these statistics.
I have struggled with anxiety since I was in college and have been fighting it ever since, tooth and nail. I take medication for it every day and have it under control most of the time. But the medicine is not perfect, and I still have days where I struggle.
Speaking as someone who truly knows that this is a very real struggle, I would like to call the church to stand up for those hurting and take a stand against the stigma of mental illness.
While most of us our not counselors or may not feel like we can help, the one thing we can all do is be available to listen. We can stop just accepting “I am good” as an answer to “How are you?” and start to have real conversations and start developing actual relationships with one another.
I love my church and I hope God can use each one of us to make an impact in each other’s lives, as we are encouraged to do in Galatians 6:2 (ESV) – “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
So, really… how are you?