Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. ~James 3:13
I recently signed up to bring muffins to a pot luck. This was not one of my brighter ideas. I really don’t enjoy making muffins. I only have one pan that doesn’t burn muffins, and have never gone out and bought another pan… so making more than one batch of muffins was going to be time consuming. And also… I am a procrastinator. In this case, I told myself that day old muffins are no good, so that was my excuse. But in all honesty, it was my procrastinating-nature at its finest. So the night before, I was scrambling to make muffins. Really nice fancy muffins that would impress the other moms and let them know that I care about health and am an excellent chef (and somehow convey the message that I am a good person? do you ever get that feeling at potlucks?). I was looking for something that had flax seed and berries. Not having either on hand, reality came calling, and I decided to go for the applesauce and banana bread muffins. Mostly because I had all the ingredients, and if you add chocolate chips, my kids will eat them (my kids will eat anything if chocolate chips are added… I suppose that is also true for me). Well, long story short, I had one batch done. And the idea of starting over was… annoying. So I did what any respectable woman would do- I called my man. I asked him to pick up muffins and bring some home with him. Then I smiled to myself, and patted myself on the back. “Job well done!” I may not impress the other moms, but I would be going to bed on time. So there was reason to celebrate.
Then my husband came home with two boxes of muffin mix.
I looked stupidly at those boxes, then at my husband, and then at the boxes again. Sensing that something was wrong, he tentatively asked me what it was. I just blinked, “Didn’t I ask you to bring home muffins?” He nodded, adding that he knew I was making muffins for the potluck tomorrow. And I just kept staring stupidly at those two boxes, not willing to reach out and grab them. Then he asked that dangerous questions all husbands must bravely ask from time to time, “Are you mad?”
And for once, thankfully, I could say, “No.” I was just amazed. I can finish this man’s sentences. We have been married for more than ten years. He will call up from the basement, “Do you know where the-” and before he can finish the sentence, I am telling him where the thing is. So it just amazes me that we can still have these moments of colossal miscommunication.
Now, I know, muffin mix is not a big deal. But, trust me, we have far worse communication mishaps all the time. Communication is one of those things that boggles my mind. I always think I am so clear about something, only to find that the other person was apparently having a conversation with a totally different person (because I sure don’t remember the conversation going that way). Or even the way we misinterpret body language. I recently was trying to figure out why a woman was so mad at me, only to have her come up and give me a big hug two minutes later. So I’ve been puzzling through how I could be a better communicator. And I just had some of my best friends over for a visit, and was reflecting about their communication skills and wondering why we did so well at communicating. And I made a little communication list (to get you started, by no means a complete list- also not a list complied by anyone with any kind of degree in anything beyond math…) to help me out as I am trying to make new friends in a new town*.
- be honest
- be kind (no brutal honesty)
- repeat back what you think you heard (“So what you’re saying is [fill in the blank with your take on the conversation]”)
- make sure you clear up confusion right away (“When you said [this], did you mean [fill in the blank]?”)
- if you’re hurt or confused- say so!
- make sure you tell the person you care for them regularly (and probably you should give them pie or something so they know you love them, cupcakes work too.)
Now let me just say 5 was a real hard one for me. I was still in elementary school mode in my twenties, thinking that if you ever tell a friend they hurt you, they would leave. But I learned from one of my dear friends, that in a real relationship this isn’t true. Early on in our friendship she came and told me about something that I had said that hurt her. And it was shocking to me the first time. Because, of course, I didn’t mean to hurt her. But it was nice that she got it said, I could apologize and clear up the situation, and it’s started a solid trusting foundation in our relationship.
Why is communication important? Well, I could argue so that you don’t end up with box muffin mixes when you wanted muffins-without-all-the-hassle. But what I will say is, how are we going to communicate the love of Christ to others if we can’t even tell the person we know best what we want him to pick up at the grocery store? How?
And how did the muffin dilemma end, you wonder? One of my children and I just ran to town and bought the muffins and a treat for ourselves- a fun date! And the next day, I got myself and the kids all ready and bundled into the car and off to the potluck right on time! Only to realize I had forgotten all the muffins at home [picture me banging my head against the steering wheel in the car (at a stop light- don’t worry!)]. So we stopped and got even more muffins and brought those to the potluck**. The next day my husband brought all the forgotten muffins (now a day old) to work. Muffins for everyone!
Lord, thank you that you have given us words and ways to communicate. Help us to communicate with our loved ones in ways that honor and glorify you. Help us to learn to communicate clearly, so that through our words you could be glorified around the world. Help us to be willing to be vulnerable and authentic with others. Bless our words. In Jesus name, Amen!
*Uhm, we moved. And I talk about it a lot in the blog. So mentioning it in detail again seemed… boring. :)
**disadvantage of living 20 minutes outside of town.