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Conversations That Matter

scared

What happened to talk of the weather and the latest story of what your dog swiped off the counter and consumed? Where is the easy cadence of saying not much? Of bringing up what you read about or watched on the news and not feeling like you are making a political proclamation, but just discussing a current event.

It feels like the conversations I am a part of are all big these days, talking about future plans and current fears and past regrets. We may start off in the safe zone, only to quickly delve into the murky waters of what if and what now. Please understand that this is the place where I tend to be most comfortable, I am notoriously bad at small talk, but the weight of our words seems to be so much heavier lately; the sentences that I am stringing together can truly cut someone deeply, or sway their decision or even let them off the hook. It feels like a huge responsibility.
In today’s society it is easier to offend or get offended than ever, so we can be tempted to choose to say nothing, believing that we are keeping the peace. I have been guilty of this, but the truth is that this crazy world needs your words, especially if they are not reckless and reactionary. We need to share our deep thoughts and ideas, and be okay with the fact that everyone will not agree. There is no license here to pound our thoughts on others, but we must, at the very least, be ready to give a reason for the way that we view a topic. Sometimes I can say that I don’t have an opinion on a prevalent issue, but the truth is that I probably have not taken the time to research and form one. That doesn’t mean that I should shout it from the rooftops, but I should wrestle with it until I have a clear opinion.
I don’t understand it, but God has trusted us to emulate Him with our words and actions. Talk about a huge responsibility! He assures us that He is with us in these conversations, and if we will trust Him, we will be guided through. He also promises to give us understanding if we pursue it. I am going to keep going with the deep conversations that seem to be happening more than ever, I’m not going to shy away from them or the people who are behind them, and I’m going to do my part not to get offended when someone sees it differently than me. Will you join me in the quest for deeper understanding, richer connections and thicker skin?

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No One Cares

no one caresSome dear friends have a son who is off-the-charts intelligent, just naturally gifted in multiple areas. I asked them how they kept him grounded over the years and they shared that when he was leaving each day for school, his parents would quote the saying, ‘No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.’ A great reminder that relationship must come first, before others can appreciate your knowledge.

I was reminded of this story when we were on a plane, headed home recently. A young man sat down next to us and started asking us where we were from, not really waiting for an answer but eager to tell us about himself. He boasted that he had been to 42 countries in the last 12 months, and quite pleased with himself, he waited for our response. We said all the right things, asking questions about the details of his adventure, what was he doing while traveling, who was he with, etc. Then he said something that completely shut me down, “Name your favorite place to visit and I will tell you everything you want to know about it.”

Our plane had not yet left the ground and neither had our conversation, as far as I was concerned. You see, the man did not know who we were or where we had been, but he was going to tell us what we needed to know. No thank you. My guy was much kinder than I, continuing the conversation and comparing notes on several countries they each had visited, until the man passed out and slept for the remainder of the flight. For some reason, it was vital to the traveler to show us how much he knew, even though it was without context to who we are.

The whole interaction made me think about how we talk with others. Do I take the time to get to know someone, understanding their fears and motivation before telling them what I think they need to know? Is it more important to me to show others how much knowledge and experience I have, than to use wisdom and discernment and share only what God is leading me to say? Being on the receiving end of this type of treatment left me cold and uninterested, when it could have been a very enjoyable experience. I have no doubt that the well-traveled young man knew volumes about my favorite places, but I didn’t care because he didn’t know a thing about me. Lord, help me to remember this lesson, taking time to really know those you place in front of me and letting go of any need to impress.

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