Friday, November 21, 2014

Listening and asking: the messy business of being intentional in conversations

photo credit
"So, how are you doing, like spiritually and emotionally?" my sister-in-law asked after an hour and a half of pleasant (small talk) conversation.

The tears spilled before my words, not because I was that emotionally or spiritually undone, but because my heart had been gasping for connection like that and I didn't even know it. Before either of us said another word, I felt like I could breathe again.

Another friend recently blogged about asking questions in conversations like "What do you want to achieve?" rather than getting stuck on piddly talk of work or food or the scoop on an acquaintance. What made her suggestion even better was the challenge to help the person achieve their goal in tangible ways. But often "we're afraid of finding out a friend's goals because that opens up the dialogue around our own hopes and dreams that we are currently avoiding."

And that's the thing: intentionality in relationships is messy. costly. uncomfortable. vulnerable.

I love people who are willing to take that relational risk, though. Sure, sometimes usually an hour (or year?) of small talk needs to happen before the deeper questions can come comfortably, but we do ourselves and others a disservice if they never come. Intentional listeners and questioners ask things like:

Tell me more about why you enjoy that so much.
What do you mean by _____?
How did you come to that conclusion?
Why do you think you reacted that way?
What makes this situation particularly hard for you?
How do you typically handle situations like this?

You might know someone who says things like that. If so, spend as much time with them as possible. With any luck, you'll be among them. I know I want to be.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I'm back! Why I'm blogging again (for now)

Sometimes you need a break from the things you love to remind yourself why you love them, to have enough space to miss it. The words were becoming a burden, not the life-giving thing it was meant to be. And I know writing is a discipline and I'm going to have days when I don't feel it, but this was different. This was a season of not feeling it. So I took a break. And can I just tell you? It was one of the best decisions I've ever made as a writer.

Because now the words are back. I sense them. They're begging to come out of me and I'm willing and wanting to go through the labor of writing to birth them into the world. I'm not sure what this will look like or how often I'll be writing, but this blog's not dead, y'all. Not yet, anyway.

So, thanks for sticking it out with me and graciously giving me space to let the words rest a while. More to come!