Are you ok?
When I’m going through tough circumstances I find myself being asked “Are you ok?” quite a bit and I know what the questioners are doing. They are doing the same thing I’ve done when I’ve asked others in similar situations the same question:
They are reaching out.
They are showing they care.
They are trying to determine whether I need help…
…or to talk
…or to vent
…or to punch a wall.
They are letting me know they are willing to listen.
They are ready to offer perspective.
They are willing to ease my burden if possible.
What they aren’t doing, and what I’ve failed to do so many times, is asking the right question. I wonder why no one has ever just screamed back at me “Of course I’m not ok! You wouldn’t be asking if I was ok!” In certain circumstances ok just isn’t an option and we’re all tired of putting on a happy face and saying “yeah” when everyone knows better.
Is there a right question? If so it needs to acknowledge that the problem isn’t fixable. It needs to be specific. It needs to direct the hurting party to think of the answer himself without being pretentious. It needs to be humble in its phrasing. It needs to imply these very personal questions without being invasive:
Do you have hope?
Are you still trusting?
Are you finding peace?
Do you need help?
Do you know others care?
I’m not sure there is a question that envelopes all of the emotional, spiritual, and personal feelings we are trying to communicate so I’m just going to keep asking “Are you ok?” and hope that I can convey those feelings through my actions and willingness to listen. More importantly, I’ll try to remember that others are doing the same when they ask me.
So, yeah, I’m ok. Thanks for asking.