Funny story I want to tell you. Our five-year-old (Catriana) fractured her ankle last week. (In case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced like a cat in a tree – CAT-tree-ah-nuh).
So the fractures aren’t the funny part. Although, it is funny that she seemed only mildly phased, and we got x-rays the next day “just as a precaution” and then discovered two tiny fractures. Well, shucks.
After that big day of visiting the doctor and going for x-rays and being carted piggy-back hither and yon (thank you for letting me say hither and yon) I was settling Catriana in for bed. She sighed and commented:
“I’m going to sleep very soundly tonight!” (and after a pause) “By the way, what is soundly?”
If you receive my weekly emails*, last week I shared a thought with you that had me pretty amped:
Jesus met people exactly where they were, and He aimed to speak their language.
But what does it look like for us to speak someone else’s language as a healthy communicator?
When my darling precious little five-year-old decided to use a term she wasn’t quite sure she had a grasp of, she did something really insightful: she checked her own communication to make sure she was communicating what she intended to communicate.
Like darling KittyCat, we can learn to ask good questions that help us make sure we understand, and we are understood.
While speaking with our spouse, a friend, or even one of our children we can check to make sure we’re understanding them: “So I think what you’re telling me is _____, but I want to make sure I understand you correctly.”
Or, “When I use the word, _______, I’m meaning this – I hope that makes sense.” In conversation, we can get immediate feedback to make sure we’re understanding and being understood. What a gift!
I’ve realized when I’m feeling rushed, I sometimes end a conversation with my kids with something like “Well whatever…” and then just walking off. (#momfail)
Refusing to rush through a conversation or interaction, and slowing to take the time to understand and to be understood: this is a secret ingredient in the recipe for great communication.
Now what does that look like in our relationship with God?
Surprisingly similar. If we’re communicating with God, we’re better off not rushing, or showing up with a checklist of things that we want to remember to mention before we get on with our day.
Slowly and consistently bringing our thoughts, emotions and worship to God in prayer is one part of the equation. Reading the Word with the goal of understanding (again, not a checklist!) can also radically impact our relationship with God.
Another part of the equation is sitting still to listen quietly for the whisper of the Holy Spirit. He isn’t going to shout or clamor for your attention, so it’s in the being still and knowing that some of the most wonderful communication can happen.
We also benefit from refusing to jump to conclusions. We can create space for God to confirm His leading by comparing what we sense in our hearts with what we know to be true in His Word.
God uses His Word, prayer, the inner witness of the Holy Spirit (that thing where you know it in your knower), and even our own circumstances to clarify and verify things He wants to communicate with us.
So, darling friend. Can I encourage you to not rush into a “well whatever” like me this week, and instead take your efforts at communication a little more slowly?
Take a deep breath. Give yourself the space to ponder the response to a question – your response and someone else’s.
I hope the clarity that results is life-giving. And maybe? You’ll sleep a little more soundly, too.
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