Our society has become very good at faking things.
We've embraced the art of plastic surgery, modifying our bodies into something they were not naturally intended to be.
There is a McDonald's on almost every major street in the United States (but let's be honest, barely anything found at any fast food restaurant can qualify as "real" food).
The most common and most frightening thing to me, however, is that we have mastered the art of faking emotions.
When we run into people we know on the streets our go-to greeting is something along the lines of, "Hey! How are you doing?" and the response from almost any person will be an automatic: "I'm good, how are you?"
Sometimes those words are genuine; life is going great and you are ready to proclaim it to the world! But what about when things are going wrong? What do we do when we are truly struggling and somebody asks how life is going? More often than not we fake a smile and reply with the almost robotic "Good!"
So, why are we afraid to show our true emotions? When did sadness become a weakness, and why are we always trying to hide it? Seeking out help should always be easier than lying about our true feelings, but this is so rare in our culture today.
What I have viewed growing up and being around adults is that children are taught to be "okay." We grow up witnessing our parents saying that everything is fine even when we know that things are falling apart at home, or that there is a serious struggle occurring in the lives of our parents. Children catch onto things like this and adapt to these behaviors.
We have essentially been taught to pretend that our lives our perfect, no matter how messed up we are internally. This can lead to serious issues such as self harm, depression and other unhealthy ways people "deal" with their stress. Without seeing external signs of pain such as scarring, or the true emotion that lies behind a person's eyes, we would never guess a person is struggling.
It shouldn't be hard for us to tell others how we truly feel. Being honest with a person can often strengthen a relationship. I'm not saying that every time anybody we vaguely know asks us how we are doing we need to bare our souls to them and have a heart to heart. However, if we are close to a person and they ask how life is going, we should assume that they actually care and desire to know what we are truly feeling.
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity..."
Colossians 3:12-14 NIV
We are called to bear each other's burdens, so we should never be afraid to share them in the first place.
On the flip side of all of this, if you ask a person how they are doing, be prepared. It might not be the common practice anymore, but you should at least expect a real answer. Asking how a person is doing is an invitation for them to be real with you. This might lead to some awkward situations, but always remember that you were the one who asked in the first place. If a person is baring their soul to you and coming to you with serious struggles, they are doing more than most people; they are searching. You have become an emotional outlet for them, and while you may not have expected it, it is now your job to listen.
Emotions are not a weakness. Sometimes we feel things so intensely that we feel like we might explode. This should be an obvious sign that you need to let those things out. Choose the healthiest option there is: talk to someone. Find somebody you trust and be honest. Once you are honest with them, you may be surprised that they have things they need to discuss as well. This is the prime time to "bear with each other," so take advantage of it! Stop pretending you're "okay."
In a world where everything is fake, take a moment to be genuine, you might be surprised how refreshing it is!