"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
February 24, 2016
This week I've been thinking quite a bit about the importance of communication. Talking is the best form of communication between two people. You may be able to relay messages via email, text, Facebook, twitter, and all the other sources of modern technology, but nothing truly takes the place of face to face communication.
You don't really get to intimately know someone by reading their blogs, Facebook posts, emails, or texts. Friendships aren't built by reading what someone has to say; but by talking to them -- asking questions, listening, getting to know their likes and dislikes, becoming familiar with their personality, and finding out what their sense of humor is.
Once that relationship is established, you don't maintain it by cutting off communication and losing touch with what's happening in one another's life. You have to keep in close contact, which isn't always easy. Sometimes communication takes work, sometimes it feels as if it's one-sided, sometimes it's frustrating, sometimes there are misunderstandings; but the end result is worth it.
Often it seems as if husband and wife relationships are what come to mind when we think about communication. Honestly, if someone is married, that is of great importance. In fact, without honest and open communication, a marriage will either fail or have lots of misunderstandings and heartaches. It takes both spouses willing to open up and be honest with one another and keep those lines of communication always open. That sometimes takes work; especially on the part of the man, who ofttimes tends to not want to share his thoughts or emotions or talk things through.
I had no idea just how different men and women were, until after Jon and I were married for a while. We've been married for over ten years, and sometimes something will happen that still astounds me at how differently Jon and I respond to it. We still have communication mishaps and misunderstandings and frustrations from time to time.
Men assume that women can read their minds, and sometimes we can; but other times, a man's thoughts will deviate in a completely different direction and we have no idea how they got there. Women want to talk things out, use their words, express their feelings, plan and dream out loud, chit-chat about everyday things....... and don't understand why men don't want to use their words. Men, on the other hand, can say something in 10 words that takes a woman 150 words to say. Men tend to state facts; women tend to explain details. That's how most men and women are designed, so apparently, that's how God created us.
Sometimes I think that Jon and I are on the same page, then he shuts down and I realize that not only were we not on the same page, we weren't even in the same book. I believe that Jon's thoughts during those times are along the line of, "I wasn't saying anything, therefore, wasn't encouraging my wife in her plans. She should know that means I don't want to do this." But my thoughts are, "Jon isn't saying anything to discourage my plans, so he must think it's a good idea." Sometimes Jon has to use his words; sometimes I need to shut up and not use quite so many.
A while back I was having a conversation with my nephew's wife. They've been married a couple years now. She was telling me, "I will ask how his day went, and he'll just say fine. I want to really know... I want to know if he's fulfilled in his job.... if he doing what he wants to be doing... I want to know details.....and he just says 'fine'. I don't know what that means!" I've had similar conversations with Jon throughout the years. I told her that with men, if they say "fine", then they mean that everything is okay. They see no reason to expound! They think they are answering your question and telling you what you want to know -- their day went fine. Women aren't like that! I will ask Jon how his day went and he may just answer, "Fine"; because that sums up his day. On the other hand, he may ask how my day went and I will tell him everything that happened and everything I did from the time he left work until he got home! Both answers are correct; but men compact their answers to be as simple and short as possible, while women use all of their allotted words that they're given each day. That's why communication between spouses has to be clear-cut and open and worked on by both the husband and wife, in order to have a strong relationship.
Not only is communication important between spouses, but it's important in family relationships; whether that be between parents and children, or between siblings. When the children get older and have families of their own, their jobs possibly move them away from parents and they can become very busy raising their kids; and siblings often pursue careers that take them in very different directions. But this also the time when parents and their grown-up children could become really good friends to one another. It's a time when siblings can be best friends and have a close relationship. But it takes work and it takes a lot of time and effort.
After my sisters got married, there have been several times when we've lived far apart. Over the years, I've had sisters living in Minnesota, Washington, Kansas, Texas, all over Arkansas, and in Oklahoma. Now, we are all within three hours of one another, which is great. When my sisters had young children and were busy being a pastor's wife and/or were working, it was sometimes difficult to find time to stay involved in each other's lives. But we made a choice that we wanted to stay close and tightly-knitted to one another, and were willing to put forth the effort. We would visit as often as we could, which wasn't nearly as often as we would have liked. We made a point of calling each other and talking on the phone. It was important to us all that we stay in contact and remain close to one another. We're all best friends and have a close, loving relationship; but it was a choice we all made and we were willing to work for it. Now, we still visit when we can, call, and try at least once a year to have a couple days when only we five girls get together. But it has taken, and continues to take, all five us working on maintaining the relationship and friendship.
I've heard parents complain that their kids never call or come see them. In fact, my dad used to do that sometimes. I remember him calling me a few times and saying, "I haven't heard from you for a while, so I just wanted to call and let you know that I was still alive!" I would jokingly reply, "I figured if you had of died, June would have called and let me know;" and Daddy would laugh. I was single back then, but had a full-time job that was stressful at times; as well as being very busy and active in my home church. I did go see him and June fairly often, but sometimes life just got busy and time would get away from me and it would be longer than I intended between visits and phone calls. My thought was, "The phone rings both ways! It shouldn't just be my responsibility to be the one to always call. The road also runs both directions; so Daddy could come see me sometimes, too." Communication has to be a two-way street. You can't get your feelings hurt or get upset if your kids don't call if you're not willing to pick up the phone and call them, also. You can't get upset if your kids or grandkids don't come for a visit if you're not willing to go see them and put forth an effort, too. But it works both ways! Kids also can't get so caught up in their lives and in activities and careers that they neglect calling and visiting with their parents. Parents and kids need one another, no matter their ages. It's a shame when busyness and careers and life comes and severs that relationship. It's the first relationship a child has, and should be one that endures forever.
As I stated earlier, parents and grown-up kids can, and should, have a strong friendship and a special bond with one another. Some of the best conversations I had with Daddy were when I was grown up and on my own, and the two of us would drive together to Texas or Oklahoma to visit one of my sisters. When we were alone, we would talk about everybody and everything and have wonderful visits. Daddy would open up and we'd discuss things more freely than we did at home. Perhaps it was because we generally traveled at night after I got off work, so Daddy was more talkative, trying to keep me awake when I was driving. But we would never have had those comfortable down-to-earth visits if our relationship wasn't solid. Honestly, our being father/daughter friendship took work. Daddy wasn't always the most talkative man; and he certainly wasn't demonstrative in showing affection or saying how he felt. I had to call or go visit, even when he didn't call or come see me. Sometimes I felt like I was the one always putting forth the effort, but it was worth my time. When Daddy passed away, I had no regrets!
I love seeing my sisters conversing with their adult children on a grown-up level. It has been a joy to watch their friendship develop and mature. I've also enjoyed getting to know my nephews and nieces on a deeper level as they matured, and being not only an aunt to them, but becoming their friend. It's a precious bond!
When you have built a relationship with someone, you get to know their heart. There may come a point, due to sickness and disease, that they can't communicate as they once did and the words don't come as easily, but when you have that foundation of love already established, you can more easily know their heart and can figure out their needs. I've seen that with my father-in-law, who has Alzheimer's. Sometimes he can't communicate his thoughts clearly, but we know him well enough to generally know what he's trying to say and be able to prompt him and understand what he's trying to say. He has a roommate whose words aren't quite so clear anymore, and whose health is deteriorating. I've watched his wife communicate with him through touches, when she's not sure what he is trying to say or is wanting; and her touch will calm him. Why? Because they already had a relationship and communication established long before this situation occurred.
As time-consuming and as much work as earthly relationships take, it makes our lives fuller and happier having family and friends who love us and whom we love in return. It makes the hard times bearable and the happy times more enjoyable.
Communication is not only important in our relationships with one another, but also important in our relationship with God. Just as our earthly relationships won't grow and be healthy if they are one-sided, our spiritual relationship with God won't grow and be healthy if it's one-sided. God is always ready and willing to speak to our hearts and spend time with us. He is always waiting to hear from us and desiring to hear our voice communicate with Him. When we take the time to converse with God daily and sit quietly in order to hear Him speak to our heart, it is well worth the time and effort!
I'd like to clarify some of the conversations Loretta and I have. She may ask, "How was your day?", which asks for a rating. So I give a rating, precisely as was requested, "Fine." Then I might carefully ask, "Did you have a good day?", which is a yes/no question, not an essay question. But instead, I get a detailed minute-by-minute log of the entire day. So, I think the frustration isn't so much that men don't communicate. It's that we communicate accurately.
I've also heard that men and women each have an allotment of words for a day. If a woman spends the day with children, they don't get to share their allotment of words, so use them on their husbands as soon as they get home. But men use up almost their entire allotment at work, so all they have left is "fine", and "g-night".
And recently, Scott Adams explained why men pay less attention to women than women pay to men. Men tend to say all they need in just a few words, "'s'up?", so others can use their day's attention span by focusing very closely on that word. But if a woman says, "How was your morning? Did you get enough coffee? What did you have for lunch? Who did you eat with? Was it good? Did you have a hard time staying focused this afternoon? Which route did you take home? Was the traffic good?", then other people use up their day's attention span barely paying attention to the first couple questions, and forget what they were by the last one, "s'fine".
The difficult thing to keep remembering is that just because we are different, that doesn't mean either of us is wrong. At least, not precisely wrong.
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1 jar taco sauce
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can chopped green chiles
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 large bag Dorito chips
1 can enchilada sauce
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (more or less!)
Brown ground beef; drain. Mix soups, enchilada sauce, taco sauce, and green chiles. Crush enough chips to cover bottom of pan. Add ground beef. Pour soup mixture over the top. Sprinkle on cheese. Bake at 350 until cheese is melted and thoroughly hot. Serve over Dorito chips.
I babysit my great-niece, Jovie, part-time. She had her second birthday on December 30th, and has definitely entered the stage of the "terrible twos". In the last couple of weeks she used an entire glue stick on herself, and covered her entire head with a jar of Vaseline.
I was recently talking to my oldest sister about this and she told me that when her oldest son was was about 2-3 years old, he got up in the middle of the night, got a stick of margarine out of the refrigerator, and used it to "paint" the outside of a fish tank they had setting in their kitchen. Neither her nor her husband heard him. My brother-in-law's sister was visiting them at the time and sleeping on the couch in the living room, and she hadn't heard him either. They knew that it was him and not his brother, who is 10 months younger, because he had butter on himself when he got up the next morning!
I also remember one time when my two oldest nephews were visiting. Mama had a drawer with a flour bin inside. One of the boys, who was probably around 2 at the time, got into the flour bin and had it all over the floor and all over himself.
Another sister recently shared a story about her 2-year old granddaughter. Their house is tri-level. My sister had to go to work, so let her husband, who was on the third level in their bedroom, know that she was leaving. In the few minutes it took him to get from their bedroom to the family room on the bottom level, their granddaughter had run to the second level to the kitchen and got a loaf of bread, brought it downstairs to the family room, and spread pieces of bread all over the chairs and floor.
"God doesn't ask, 'Are you capable?'
He simply asks, 'Are you willing?'" - Christine Caine
We love you!
Loretta & Jon