There I was standing a few feet from my cousin who I haven’t spoken to in over three years. We were close growing up but had allowed distance and misunderstandings to weaken our bond; by now we could hardly hold a conversation with each other. The separation was felt by both of us and we were aware of the cause. I was harbouring feelings that I hadn’t expressed to him and he was doing the same. In over three years since the incident neither of us had attempted to initiate communicating with the other about the matter and it had taken its toll. Why do we sometimes choose to suffer by failing to address the issues we have with others instead of investing the effort needed to resolve them and possibly restore the peace? Why is communication so challenging at times? Could it be that our willingness or unwillingness to communicate is testifying of our love for each other (or lack thereof)?
To communicate means to share or exchange information, news, or ideas and the prefix ‘com’ means: with, together, jointly and altogether. We first see the results of effective communication in Genesis 1 when Elohim communicated His desires with the unformed universe which resulted in the creation of life. Effective communication always results in the creation of understanding which oftentimes deepens bonds and alleviates fear. From Genesis to Revelation we see an ongoing demonstration of The Godhead communicating the message of salvation with humanity in an effort to re-establish oneness between Creator and creatures (note that the ‘uni’ in communicate means one).
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and lived with us.” John 1:1,14
-Here we are told that God, the Word, lived (communicated/came together/united Himself) with us.
“That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:21
-Communication has the potential to create oneness. On the other hand, failing to communicate has the potential to create distance/separation.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” Phillipians 2:5
-When we communicate we share our minds and private thoughts with each other which help to create understanding. Jesus demonstrated this in His mission to teach about the kingdom of God; we receive His mind when we listen to His message.
It’s true that some conversations are difficult to have for a number of reasons but we need to have them nonetheless. Our relationships here on earth are established largely on our ability to communicate.
Here are some tips to help us improve our communication from Betterhealth.vic.gov.au:
set aside time to talk without interruption from other people or distractions like phones, computers or television
be clear about what you want to communicate
talk about what is happening and how it affects you
talk about what you want, need and feel – use ‘I’ statements such as ‘I need’, ‘I want’ and ‘I feel’
accept responsibility for your own feelings
listen. Put aside your own thoughts for the time being and try to understand their intentions, feelings, needs and wants
share positive feelings with your partner, such as what you appreciate and admire about them, and how important they are to you
be aware of your tone of voice
…remember that you don’t have to be right all the time. If the issue you are having is not that important, try to let the issue go, or agree to disagree.
Consider the description given by the author of The Desire of Ages regarding our Saviour, the greatest communicator of all time: “Jesus did not suppress one word of truth, but He uttered it always in love. He exercised the greatest tact and thoughtful, kind attention in His intercourse with the people. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness. He spoke the truth, but always in love. He denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity; but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes. He wept over Jerusalem, the city He loved, which refused to receive Him, the way, the truth, and the life.”
In conclusion, the heart renewed by grace seeks to establish understanding with other through listening and responding with love. Although it isn’t easy, it is necessary to have the conversations that we tend to avoid. Afterall, our greatest service comes through yielding ourselves as tools of restoration to life and this can occur during a conversation. Let’s allow the following words to marinate as I quote: “Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]” James 1:19.