Say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.
~Some convicting quote I found on the internet-origin unknown
I hope you have spent the last two weeks really trying to be intentional in the relationships that are most important to you. I’m sure there have been times that it was difficult, or times you thought it wasn’t worth it, but it is my prayer that your efforts will make a difference no only in the way you think about the people that matter the most in your life, but it also improves your overall relationships.
C-Is For Communication
Communication is such an important thing in relationships, and also such a multi-faceted topic, I feel like I could write several blogs about this topic alone. I’m going to try and do my best to touch on several points in one post. I hope this message isn’t so long-winded that I lose you on this one, I just feel there is a lot to cover on the topic of communication.
We are smack-dab in the middle of an era that is connected to anyone and anyone with the mere swipe of a fingertip across a screen. Yet, in the midst of our hyper-connected lives, may of us often lack deep, meaningful conversation. Don’t get me wrong, there are times I’m grateful for the ability to text an important conversation rather than speak it (hello nosey kids/co-workers) but there are also many times in my own life where a situation escalated much further and faster than it ever would have, had I had the same conversation over the phone or face to face. Maybe a tone was assumed differently than it was intended when the sender wrote it, or words were sent sharper than they would have been, had I had to face someone and speak those same things out loud. Whatever the situation may be, I feel as though we have lost the tenderness that takes place when we have the opportunity to hear someone else’s voice, or pick up on the cues of their body language the way we do when we are sitting together as we speak. Often we can tell by the look in our loved ones eyes, if something isn’t ok-even if their words tell us otherwise. We miss that, when we take the opportunity to text, rather than call, or get together to catch up. I know I’m very guilty of sending a “hey, how are you today?” text more often than I ever pick up the phone just to hear someone else’s voice. What would life be like, if we were more intentional about taking a few minutes out of our day to just call and say “Hi, I’m thinking of you today, and I pray your day goes well.” rather than skimming our newsfeeds, and texting our lives away. I’m grateful for the people in my life that do take the time to send a text just to say hi every once in a while, but I know I feel even more blessed the times my phone rings just because someone wanted to let me know I was on their heart. The sound of the people that matter to you, is one of the sweetest sounds in the world.
Another dynamic of communication, is something I’ve been slowly figuring out over the last 18 years with my husband. I’m normally not a confrontational person, but I’ve learned that I also don’t let things go very easily. I will ignore something that bothers me, until one day I blow up about a years worth of things that have upset me, and that’s not fair to anyone. Early in our relationship, many of our “fights” were over one little thing that was just the tip of the iceberg, and I would unleash months worth of things I was upset about, that he had no idea I was still holding onto. Rather than dealing with things as they came up, or forgiving and moving on with the things that didn’t need to be mentioned, I’d shelf it somewhere in my arsenal of things I’d bring up when I was upset. As time has gone on, and we have gotten better at communicating (and I have grown up) I have learned that I need to 1) pick my battles, and 2) if I decide it’s not worth battling now, it’s not worth battling later. Either address it, or let it go. AND-not every single thing that is bothersome needs to be dealt with. Maybe I was being overly sensitive, or there was a miscommunication. Maybe my expectations were unmet or I didn’t clearly identify what my expectations were (lets be honest…how many times do we assume that our spouses SHOULD KNOW what we want/how we feel/ what our expectations are, and then get mad when they don’t do what we think they should-even though we didn’t actually tell them? I can’t be the only one who has thought my husband SHOULD KNOW something I didn’t actually tell him? Maybe I said something was fine, but it was more of a test to see if he would actually dare to do something I didn’t actually think was fine, even though I said it was fine…anyone else…no…just me? Pray for my husband-bless that man, he is a gracious forgiver indeed.) My point in all of this is not every single thing needs to be a discussion/fight/nitpicking conversation, but if you are deciding to let something go, truly let it go! If it IS something that you feel needs to be discussed, then discuss it, but choose your words carefully. You can say what you mean, without being mean. Trust me, I know I can be HARSH with my words when I’m hurt, but what’s the point in that? It doesn’t make me feel good long term to be hurtful to people. Maybe in the moment it feels good to really stick it to them with something harsh, but once things have cooled down, it doesn’t feel very good to be mean, especially to the people that matter the most to you.
Say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.
The art of good communication isn’t based strictly on what you say (or what you hold back) it’s also based on HOW you say what you say. My husband would agree that almost ALL of our moments of not getting along (we RARELY fight, but we aren’t always happy with each other) are because of one of our tones. It’s not WHAT is said, it’s HOW it’s said that creates the conflict. Is that how it is for you? Maybe with your spouse, or a child? Maybe with your parents, or siblings? Who is it that’s on your heart today? Maybe you have a difficult time figuring out how to effectively communicate, because you haven’t quite figured out how to say what you mean, without someone being mean. You’re not alone. I struggle with that too.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
One other thing I wanted to bring up with the topic of communication is that sometimes it’s hard to know what to talk about with your loved ones. Sometimes life gets stagnant and I don’t mean that to sound as awful as it does. Sometimes we are in seasons of life where we are busy, on survival mode, and the most uninterrupted conversation we have is just the top most important information rattled off in passing. Maybe its just comparing schedules, making sure everyone is at activities, bills are paid, etc. If that’s the season you are in, please know you aren’t alone. My husband and I talk on the phone every single day, on our way to work, and our way home from work (don’t worry, it’s legal here) but many times the conversations just cover the basics.
*How was your day?
*How did you sleep?
*How are you feeling?
*Was everyone at work today?
*Do you need anything from the store?
*Who’s picking up the kids?
But the more meaningful conversations that have us feeling more connected are few and far between. It’s not that we don’t enjoy talking to one another. It’s not that we don’t have things that excite us, or have things going on that we are passionate about, it’s just that we have 3 kids, and a LOT of interruptions. Both of us work outside of the home, we have 2 kids in school and a toddler, we both serve in several ministries, and sometimes the time we have together ends up being spent going over the details of the important things, rather than the meaningful things. So how do we get passed it? How do we spend more time communicating in a way that we feel more bonded and involved in the matters of each others heart? We make a point to carve out time with each other. Sometimes that’s something as simple as going to the store without the kids. Sometimes it’s turning the tv off at the end of the evening once the kids are in bed, and talking about something that was exciting about our days. Sometimes we take a shower together because it’s uninterrupted time we have together where we catch up on who was drafted in which round of the draft, or which scrapbook paper is on sale this week, but we make time to keep talking to each other. Communication is so important in ALL relationships.
This week I want to challenge myself, and those of you who have been following along to be intentional in your relationships in the following ways:
- Pick up the phone and call someone every day (yes, every single day) just to say “hi, you’re on my heart today.”
- Make sure you are addressing the things that need to be addressed in a tone that is helpful, rather than hurtful to the situation.
- Don’t assume that people know how you feel or what you think. If you feel or think a certain way, tell them kindly. Remember, if you say something is fine, you mean something is fine. You can’t be mad later because you said something was fine when it actually wasn’t.
- Ask your loved one about an activity that is exciting to them. Maybe they are into sports, or have a certain hobby that you may not particularly enjoy, ask them to tell you what it is they enjoy about it.
I pray that you have a week full of meaningful conversations, and reconnect with those that are the most important to you. Remember, don’t be mean.
In His Love,
- The Importance Of Being Intentional In Relationships-An ABC Series- F Is For Fear - February 21, 2018
- Sometimes It’s Hard For Me To Love You - February 14, 2018
- Praying, When Things Seem Impossible - February 7, 2018
- The Importance Of Being Intentional In Relationships-An ABC Series- E Is For Expectations - January 31, 2018
- The Importance Of Being Intentional In Relationships-An ABC Series-D Is For Date Nite - January 24, 2018