Friday, April 9, 2010

The Christian F-Word

Admit it. You opened this just to see the F-word. I know you did. That's just sad.  I mean really! I have been reading the book Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff recently. It's a good book. You should check it out. He mentions the Christian F-word towards the end of that book. Acuff didn't create the term but used it in his book. Ok, I know, you wanna know what the F-word is.

The Christian F-word is "Fine".  Here's the thing. We ALL use this word. I hear it 100 times on Sunday morning. It goes something like this.

Me - "Hey there Steve, how's it going?"
Steve - "Fine"
Me - "Fine? I heard you dog get hit by a car yesterday while chasing your cat who incidentally choked on your goldfish."
Steve - "Oh yeah, it was a miserable day, but i'm fine."

Ok that's a really bad example but it's been a long day so that's what you get. 

For some reason when we show up to church on Sunday morning we feel the need to portray that our lives are perfectly "fine".  We desperately want others to see that our lives are "fine" And maybe if we sell it hard enough we'll believe that everything in our lives are "fine".

But let's be honest. Things are not "fine". We are humans and sometimes life is hard. Ok, not even sometimes. Life is often hard. So why do we work so hard to convince the world that we are "fine"? Why do we hide behind the "fine" mask?

Is it because we feel that no one is interested in our problems? I can see that. Have you ever started to go into your issues and you see the person you are talking to start to glaze over. When they asked how you were doing you were supposed to answer fine....that way they get credit for asking and they don't have to stand around and listen to your life story. I see this a lot. Honestly, people just don't care.

Or could it be that we don't want to admit our problems? I mean how cool is it to respond like this:  "Well to be honest, my life is about to fall apart. I don't know how I'm going to make it through this" It's painful to admit when we don't have our lives together. It's a blow to our pride for others to know that we just aren't on top of things.

There is a problem with "fine". there is a big problem.  When we consistently LIE to others about how we are we do a couple of things.

1. We enable the Church to stop caring-  If someone tells me they are fine consistently, I begin to anticipate it and then I begin to not even listen to the answer. I think this happens a lot. I can tell when someone asks but doesn't really care. By always responding, "Fine", we are robbing the church of one of it's principal values. We are robbing the church of the opportunity to care for each other. Thanks to the Christian F-Word we are now so rusty at caring for each other that we don't do it at all.

2. We begin to Lie to God. - I know for a fact that if we LIE to others enough we will start to believe it. If we believe it, we will tell God that it's the truth. Essentially we LIE to God. There's a reason I keep capitalizing LIE. We have to admit that it is LYING. Lying is a sin. When we answer "fine" we are on the path to lying to God.

3. We ruin it for when things are actually Fine- Your main thought while reading this is "what if things really are fine?" It's like the boy who cries wolf. I've heard so many people lie about being fine that I don't believe anyone anymore. I'm sorry if you really are fine. I don't believe you. Here's the deal. There are so many better ways you can describe your life than using "fine" so use them! Don't settle for "fine"

So what should you do with this. I'll tell you. Next time someone asks you how you are doing, answer honestly. If your life sucks at that moment, say, "My life sucks right now, here's why....." If your life is going well, say "Life is pretty good right now, here's why...."

Maybe, just maybe, if we start being honest and stop using the F-word, the church can get better at caring for each other. Remember, our lives are just as messed up as yours. That's why God gave us each other. We can come together, grow closer to Him, and praise Him in the good and bad times.

Think about that as you go out in life. I'll be watching and asking, "How are you doing?"
Here's to something other than, "fine".



  1. This is so true. Most of the time even if I don't say "I'm fine" I still get a typical "I don't want to hear your story" response. Like if I say "I'm great!" The person responds with "That's good." and walks away. And if I say "I'm haning in there." Or "I'm surviving" they still say "That's good." and they walk away. Why do we even ask if we don't care about the response?
    P.S. I apologize to Mollie for the horrible grammar in my comment.

  2. When I'm asked "how are you"..
    I usually answer:

    "Every day is an opportunity.."

    sometimes I get a chuckle, sometimes a dismissive nod, but then sometimes, a conversation ensues and relationships begin or are strengthened.. Every opportunity is an opportunity.. wink ;-)