3 John 1:14 (New International Version)
14I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.
The capacity for speech is complex and amazing, but, when it comes to communicating--it sometimes feels as if God sat us down in an airport control tower and told us to bring in the planes--with no training.
The older I get, the longer the stretch seems from the moment we utter our first attempts at words to when we understand how to use them.
I sometimes wonder about God. He put us in charge of his creation in the first place--I really wonder about that. And then when it came to the task of carrying the message of his love for mankind to the rest of the world--he left us with that too--didn't he know how dangerous that was? And, as one of my favourite singers, Rich Mullins once said, "He didn't have a plan B."
The power of words is staggering. They can slay or salve, hurt or heal. They are quick to leave our lips--but so hard to undo.
This morning I read a little from each of a couple of books I'm working my way through: How to Have That Difficult Conversation You've Been Avoiding, by Doctors Henry Cloud and John Townsend, and Soultalk by Larry Crabb.
In How to Have That Difficult Conversation (chapter 18), I read a great passage on the need to listen and "contain," or simply "be with" another in a conversation. It talked about not reacting--simply allowing the other person to process their thoughts or emotions. This is a skill I'm working on as opposed to responding to an inner impulse to "help," or "make better" if someone is experiencing painful emotions.
Then, in chapter 4 of Soul Talk, Dr. Crabb was talking about our inclination to get involved in helping "activities"--programs, committees, initiatives, campaigns --contrasted with engaging in the process of what is really craved by every human being--to be known, explored and discovered by another.
This week I was talking to a friend who'd had a "soul talk" with someone--a conversation where he felt eternity hanging in the balance in someone's soul as they edged their way towards the Kingdom. Although he hasn't been reading these books, I knew it was soul talk because of what his friend said to him afterwards--"I appreciated it. It meant a lot to me--to be able to open up."
As my friend Frank said to me, "We live for times like that."
Dear Lord, you whose lips were full of grace--be Lord of my tongue. Please let me use it less often but with more of your power.