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Christian and Socially-Conscious…One Woman's Expression

Archive for the tag “communication”

Conversational Focus

The older I become, the more I am realizing how I spend time and the conversations I am having with those whom I spend time.  It is an interesting awareness which I am finding, more and more, makes me conscious of my part in dialogues.  Let’s face it:  We, each of us, have a responsibility when communicating—as the listener and the talker.

Yeah, yeah, yeah….I know you’ve heard this before.  I had too, but recently I had an experience which reminded me that people will use you as their audience to justify their point of view and how easy it is to be that audience for them when you lose your conversational focus.

Brittney Spears Clapping

A second time they summoned the man who had been blind.  “Give glory to God,” they said.  “We know this man is a sinner.”  He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know.  One thing I do know.  I was blind but now I see!”  —John 9:24-25

People will see Truth in you.  They understand the value of your concurrence.  You better understand your worth—spiritually.  It has physical manifestations…and you better believe an audience that tunes in nonstop.

Women watching tv

  • A second time they summoned the man….”  Don’t sleep on this!  Just because you think a conversation is over does not mean that everyone has let it go.  Isn’t it funny how gossip seems to go on and on and on?  Truth will stop it every time though.  Don’t Get Caught Up
  • We know this man is a sinner.”  Note:  Words spoken with authority are not always words of certainty.  Truth is Truth.  It does not need a majority vote.
  • The man’s response, however, impressed within me an “Aha!”

Woman Standing On Rock

Here, I saw a perfect example of the application  of conversational focus.  In short, he was not persuaded by the excitement surrounding the discussion.  He was not influenced by the person speaking to him nor his entourage.  Fear was secondary.

Instead, this man did two things.  He listened and when he spoke, he spoke only Truth.  When you speak, do you only speak Truth?  Were you blind and now can see?

Hello Sunshine!

One day I was greeted with, “Hello Sunshine.”

I was already smiling as this guy approached, but his greeting made me smile wider.  It caught my attention immediately.  What an awesome way to be described!  Sunshine as in light and bright;  Sunshine as in being light in dark places.

Hello Sunshine! 

YOU are not only commissioned, but YOU are expected to SHINE!  They will know YOU by your fruit!

[“]  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.  —Luke 6:45

Prior to that day, I had not thought of myself as being Sunshine.   I thought people described in that way were the type that always had a joke on-hand to share at the drop of a dime.  I thought they were people-pleasers who never shied away from expressing a kind word.  To me, they are always noticeable, always smiling and always looking to make you laugh.  This is not me.

Now, I have a better understanding.  Being Sunshine is simply being light in dark places.  Is that you?  When you speak, what comes out of your mouth?  Are your positive expressions limited to clichés–Christian clichés?  Does your nonverbal language match your lingual declarations?  People are watching, even when you do not think so.  They are listening in more ways than one.  Just as a baby knows its mother’s heartbeat, out of the overflow of your heart you are identified.

Hello Sunshine!

Face

You better SHINE!

The Silent Response

Have you ever been accused of something that you did not do?  Has there ever been a time in your life when it seemed like the masses perceived you in a way that was so far removed from your truth?  How do you handle such situations?  How have you handled them in the past?

So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer?  See how many things they are accusing you of.”  But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed—Mark 15:4-5

Women Sitting Across From Each OtherAs I type this, a memory comes to mind.  I was sitting in a restaurant with someone who presented herself to be a friend.  There I sat listening to her description of me.  I listened in silence with interest, wondering who was this person she was describing with my name.  To prove her point, she noted a text conversation she said we had.  I had no memory of our conversation happening the way she described, so as she pulled out her phone I retrieved mine.  We read through the conversation—she did so aloud, me silently.  At the end, she looked at me.  Like I said, her memory of my words simply did not happen.

In truth, I was disappointed.  There we sat across from each other with me realizing the symbolism of our antipodean seating.  I can only imagine her surprise that I sat through her accusations in silence, but when you know your Truth you understand that it is its own defense.  Needless to say, a few minutes later I was in my car driving home.

That night I realized that people will boldly try to project their insecurities and weaknesses unto you and how such distortions have the potential of destroying that very thing sent to bless them.  Have you ever wondered how many misunderstandings happen because of this?

Talk Too Much

Believe it or not, there are times when I can talk too much.  I have always loved words, though not wordiness.  (I just have a lot to say.) 

One Sunday many years ago, I was addressing a congregation.  Afterwards, the Pastor said, “Now we know who the talker of the family is.”  (Funny how you remember things.)  It seemed like everyone laughed, everyone but me.  My family and others reassured me that I had done well.  Likewise, the Pastor complimented me.  Still, I was confused by his remark although I did not linger long on it.  I knew I said what was on my heart and the people expressed appreciation.  This was symbolic of the season of growth I was in.  At that time, if I had something to say, my belief in its truth would result in a high probability that I would say it and move on without much thought.  Times have changed.

Over the course of my life, I have learned the importance of being discerning in speech.  The more I deepened my personal relationship with God, the more I began to understand that sometimes He will show me things for me to know and not to share, at least not immediately.  YES!  I had to learn to keep my mouth shut until the appointed time.  (LOL.)  That was hard.  I have grown.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.  They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.  (Mark 9:9-10)

Shh

What I learned was to appreciate the blessing of possessing knowledge.  I regularly pray for greater wisdom and increased discernment.  There is a responsibility that comes with these three spiritual gifts.  Many avoid conversations.  That in itself could require a lot of discipline, not to be confused with fear.  For me, the bigger test was learning when not to speak.  The more I worked on controlling my tongue, the more I was able to identify frivolous conversations.  In doing so, discovering the purpose of my conversations became increasingly important.  I gained greater respect for the power of words and for the season for their expressions.

Truthfully, I value when God shows me things.  I am still learning when and how to speak on those things I share.  After all, there is a time for all things…and an audience for everything.  I have not mastered it yet, but I like the growth I see.  Now, when sharing information I try to let the Holy Spirit guide my tongue, not my ego.

Inside Out

Not long ago, a friend told me he admires my diplomacy in speech.  Apparently, he had noticed how I handled a number of situations over a period of time and was impressed.  His compliment was not surprising, however, his observation was unanticipated.  You never know who is watching.  Although not mentioned often, there is an important connection between our words and their connection to our hearts.

“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body?  But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.  These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.'”  —Matthew 15:16-20

It is easy to appear clean in a world that seems fascinated by materialism and superficial things.  Bathe the body, put on clean clothes, wear a neat hairstyle, drive a nice car, and don’t forget to smile.  This simple formula will win you a few friends.  If you are charismatic and approachable, you will win a few more.  People will want to be in your presence.

Both near and from afar, people will watch you and they will search, for flaws.  They may or may not tell you what they see, but many will see you for who you really are inside out.  Discerning Christians will know if your inside matches your outward presentation.  Do not be so mesmerized by a person’s outward appearance that you neglect to listen to their words, that you fail to hear their heart, that you neglect knowing them inside out.  Not everyone is entertained by unclean hearts.

Woman Reading Bible

The Silence of Being Victimized

There I was walking in downtown Jacksonville when it happened.  It was in the mid-morning hours.  The weather was mild; skies were clear.  I was wearing a business suit, carrying court files as I was returning to my office from the courthouse.  Mentally, I was thinking about the tasks that awaited me that day.  There would be many.  My thoughts, however, were interrupted by sounds coming from across the street.  I turned my head to look.  It was happening.  The construction workers across the street were catcalling me.  How embarrassing! Mentor Needed At that time, I was only one year out of school.  I was still learning the landscape of my profession and new environment.  The family I had in the city, I did not really know.  At times it was lonely, but I was making new friends while trying to balance the stresses of adulthood.  The last thing I needed was to be sexually harassed, publicly humiliated, and degraded for being a professionally-styled woman.  My feeling of embarrassment quickly turned into being livid.  What was their point, really?  Was such attention really supposed to entice me to scurry across the street, distribute my telephone number, and wait anxiously by the telephone…or was I supposed to ask for their numbers and call them?  What happened to being my knight in shining armor?  Oh, the stories little girls are told.

While looking forward, I acted like I did not hear them.  They continued.  There were a couple of gentlemen walking on the same sidewalk as me.  They did not challenge the construction workers though, nor did they say anything to me.  I would soon be in my office building.  I would soon be safe.

You know, I never shared this experience with anyone prior to this blog entry.  When I entered the building that day, I went about working as normal.  Although I wondered if such thing had happened to any of the other women I was working with, I never asked.  I bet it had and we were just not talking about it.  The silence of being victimized does not negate the experience.  The memory is already impressed.

A Message From Grandmother

I had a conversation with one of my grandmothers this evening.  If we are fortunate enough, we all should take time out of our busy lives to listen to their messages.  Admittedly, we do not agree on everything.  To me, it is not important that we do.  Our love supersedes any disagreement.

Mother-Daughter

There was a time when I would feel the need to express all of my views to my grandmother.  If a subject matter arose and her opinion differed from mine, I would not hesitate to let her know it.  Naively, I thought we were just having a conversation.  What I had not realized was how passionate a speaker I can be at times.  (In addition, I had not learned the power of my words.) 

I am grateful to my mother, however, for her constant reminders to let it go.  How silly I must have looked to my mother.  There I would be, intensely arguing my position to a woman whose viewpoints were significantly shaped by decades of life experiences, not mere textbooks and news articles.  Because of my mother’s guidance and example, I have since learned that I gain more wisdom in the long-run by unilaterally agreeing to disagree in silence.  In truth, these disagreements do not happen much.  When they do, however, I am more mindful of how to express myself and when to let her talk without interruption.  By creating an environment in which she feels comfortable expressing herself, I can enjoy chats like the one we had tonight.  I can experience her telling me that she loves me, her laughter, her joy.  I can hear more of her life, her challenges, her victories, and her wants for my life.  She can bestow within me insight and hope for a better tomorrow; I believe in its possibility because I can see that her “tomorrows” are better.

Oh how I love seeing the brightness in my grandmother’s face when she smiles.  It makes me happy.  Her love is a blessing, as well as her honesty.  Without knowing it, she has taught me to always consider the BIG PICTURE of communication.  What is its purpose?  What is the heart of the speaker?  How important is the topic of discussion to me, really?

I do not expect, nor do I prefer, those in my intimate circle to be carbon copies of myself.  There are particular character traits that each must have, but I appreciate being a part of a diverse, mature circle.  I am stronger for it.  I am wiser because of it.  Certainly, I am more blessed.

You Talk To Her How?

Some women can be really nasty when speaking to another woman. Why is this? I have witnessed the way some women communicate with other women and I wonder if they are that aggressive when expressing their differing views to men. Some may have one non-discriminating style of speech, but not all. Really, what’s the deal? Why is respect tossed out the window when views differ between some women?

Woman Yelling At Woman

Last night, I watched a documentary on the history of women in politics. It was really interesting…It had to be for me to stay awake. (I’m still adjusting to the time change.) I read about many of these women, but it seemed different seeing actual footage of their struggles from being a viable candidate to working in a congressional club historically reserved for men only. I watched how they were unfairly and rudely treated by men in meetings and how as a result the women partnered across political party lines to form a network amongst themselves. They made time to get to know each other, allowing themselves to see pass the political imaging painted for their Washington arrival. Their bonds were so obvious that their male peers began to ask them what they were talking about, as if they had no business talking to each other…well, really talking with each other.

The documentary left me pondering…do we have to be positioned in situations which make us conscious that we are in the minority and overtly mistreated because we are women to commit—I mean really commit—to collectively uplift each other and our societal placement as women, and in turn vow to interact with each other at all times in respectful ways. Must things be that bad for us to be our sister’s keeper?

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