Remember when you played "house" as a little girl? Setting up everything just right ... picking the mommy and the kid ... going on trips and telling each other what to do and where to put things? (That's how it went with my sister!) Well David and I have been in our house for almost a year now and have had a blast 'playing' for real! He's loving the yard work - which looks amazing - and I'm loving the decorating. We are getting settled and loving our time together. It's truly amazing to live with your best friend (even if he is a boy!). We learn more and more about each other daily ... most importantly communication.
Communication is a theme in my life lately... It seems that the 'issues' I've had with others recently all boil down to communication.
First we've learned to listen to each other! (Don't get me wrong though ... we're still learning) In his famous prayer, St. Francis of Assisi asked God to help him to “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” I think this idea of listening is at the root of good communication. Actually, the book of Proverbs offers advice (and it's been around a longer than St. Francis and his prayer :) ) In Proverbs 18:13 it says, “He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.” Earlier in this same chapter you can read this written by Solomon: “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions” (18:2). David and I have learned to slow down and listen to each other. At school, I've learned to listen to my co-workers needs. With my family, I've learned to listen to their point of view ...
The next thing we've learned about communication is being nice about it ... sounds simple, but not really. I think that closely tied in with the skill of listening is the ability to express yourself in a non-offensive and affirming manner. After all, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18). We may grown up learning to say, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” but it’s just not true. Words can hurt. Words can cut. In fact I learned today during my quiet time that at the root of our word sarcasm (in the greek) it means to cut flesh. Anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of sarcastic speech knows that it's almost just as bad. David and I have learned that if we feel strongly about something, it's not worth it to just throw our defenses up and be hurtful to the other person. We've learned to calmly discuss things - granted we aren't anywhere near perfect yet, but at least we know what we should do. This works for me at school - when I get a strong opinion about one of my students, it does no good to be rude to the parent. It also works with family ... you can do a lot of damage with hurtful words. James puts it this way, "“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” James 1:19-20. Like momma used to say, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." And I like to add (because that's just me) ... "but don't stay silent forever, talk it out!"
Last we've learned to communicate with God. I want to just say "duh!" right now to myself, but let me explain. When I started spending a lot of time with David (and vice-versa) we started to depend on each other. We felt God leading us to marriage and so we followed. We knew this is what God wanted in our lives and it was just easy to settle in that. That's a good thing, but that's not the end. Our pursuit of God was not over when he lead us together ... it had just really started. Now we can seek him together. Now we can serve him together. Now we have a "live-in" accountability partner, prayer partner, and supporter. God desires for us to communicate with him ... a lot ... separately and together. We've learned to pray for each other and how to pray together. When we communicate with him, he communicates back and it's amazing.
Through this communication, we've seen some exciting things: adesire to commit to a new part of our church - Life Park, a deisre to serve the youth at our church together, and a perfect house - that's another long story for another day. We've also seen some hard answers - no kids yet - it's not an unanswered prayer, it's just a "not yet" answer. And through that we've realized that he wanted us to learn to communicate before the next steps in our life. We aren't perfect communicators with each other, our jobs, or our families yet, but we're working on it. We accept the challenge to get better at it. We hope the people in our life will understand when we mess up and forgive.
How about you?