“How are you?” We asked that question to many people around the Westside Market in Cleveland a few weeks ago. Ben Framstad, our creative art pastor; Drew Boatner, our video director; and myself traveled up to the historic area of Cleveland for a change of scenery and subject as we sought to ask the question, “How are you really?” to complete strangers for a video intro for our new series.
Most people answered positively right away. “I’m good,” or “I’m fine,” were common responses no matter the demographics of the person. Then, Ben would ask “How are you… really?” We were expecting the walls to come down and for people to share their fear, stress, anger, or whatever was lurking below the surface. We were surprised to hear extremely positive answers even after pressing them. “The sun is shining. I’m at the Westside Market. Life is good.”
Perhaps we were just being pessimistic. Perhaps we were digging for Debbie Downers. Or perhaps human beings have learned to build up so many layers of protection on top of what they’re really feeling that you’ll never get to it in one or two or even more questions. The truth is, we all know that life is hard. What one of us isn’t going through something that causes us stress, fear, worry, anger, or just an overall feeling of emptiness?
We pressed further and asked a few more specific questions. Slowly but surely, the layers peeled away. One older couple was dealing with the death of a nephew and feelings of regret of not spending enough time with him. One man we encountered on the street was facing a tough trip back to Puerto Rico after the death of a relative. Another man was struggling with being homeless and all of the overwhelmingly difficult struggles that come along with that. Other people were extremely worried or angry about the political climate in our country. As a side note, one man felt so strongly about his feelings of worry for our country that he didn’t even hesitate on the first question. However, that was a major exception.
We walked away after a few hours having heard lots of stories. Some were happy, some were sad, some were downright hilarious, and some I can’t repeat. But we confirmed the assumption that we set out with. Everyone is dealing with something. That’s why I’m so excited for this new series “How are you… really?” God cares about what we are dealing with or facing. There is truth in His Word that speak to our fears, our exhaustion, our anger, our grief, and our pain. Jesus can and will speak through all the layers and into our issues if we let Him.
I feel so fortunate and honored to have heard all of the stories we did and I’m so excited for this new series at Grace Church.
Watch messages from our current series, “How are you… really?”