How are you doing? Whenever somebody asks me this question, I tend to get very deer in the headlights. A flurry of words dance through my mind. Typically the first one I land on is Good! followed by panic as my English teacher mom’s voice surfaces. . . .or is it Well? which never sounds quite right. Finally, after an awkward pause, “I’m O-Kayyy. How about you?” finds its way out—which sounds really lame and does nothing to facilitate authentic connection.
To help remedy this tricky social interaction that happens at least 9 times a day, I’ve discovered a simple little tool to facilitate authentic connection. It’s called a MEPS check-in, and here’s how it works:
Think of only one word to describe how you’re doing in each of these categories:
You can take this quick inventory during your time of prayer, while journaling, or even keep a tab by writing the words into your phone. You may find that spiritually you’re hopeful, but emotionally you’re struggling. Or physically you’re strong, but mentally you’re tired (or vice versa.) The simple act of breaking down your overall sense of well-being into these 4 parts can help you gain greater clarity about 1.) how you’re doing; and 2.) where to focus some attention and care.
This tool also helps with communication with others. You can actually respond in a way that is authentic when someone asks you a genuine question about how you’re doing. For example, I tend to reach for “tired” as a catch-all for anything negative I’m feeling. But as I drill down into the 4 different dimensions, I can share with my loved ones more clearly, “I’m emotionally weary” which helps them understand I don’t mean I’m not getting enough sleep. Or “I’m mentally tired but actually quite happy!” which more accurately gets at the whole picture.
You can do a MEPS check-in with your spouse before a date or with your family over dinner. You can do it to start a meeting or as a way of beginning your small group or Bible Study. It’s a simple way to get a sense of how each member of the group is doing. It creates a foundation of understanding and authentic connection.
Taking a MEPS inventory is one way to break down the different aspects of who God made you to be, so that you can understand yourself, and others, better. And as Dallas Willard says, “Understanding is the basis of care. What you would take care of you must first understand, whether it be a petunia or a nation.” (Or a person, of course!)