#40 HOW ARE YOU?
This morning as I sit down at my computer, I’m feeling mighty tired. We are on the backside of one of our busiest summers, while looking ahead to a busy fall that flows right into the holidays. Common sense might say this isn’t the best time to start a new Bible study. But I did, because God dropped it in my lap. He knew it’s just what I needed to keep my brain focused & my life more orderly. Truth makes me think more clearly so I feel more grounded. No question about that!
The opening day observation in The Quest has had my brain spinning for 2 weeks. I value relationships. More than stuff. More than money. God first, then people. We are in a new season of life and I’ve been mulling over some things that bother me. I’ve watched life change completely since I was a child. But it’s also changed rapidly in the last 20 years, spiraling down in the death of personal relating skills. Yes, we can blame technology—partly. (It frees us up, only for us to become busier by maintaining its advancements.) But let’s get real here. We have a choice. And unless we fight for relationships with the investment of time, we’ll lose them altogether. The scenario in the study pictured what it would look like to have complete freedom in conversation, as long as no one asked any questions. No basic questions at all. “…sooner or later you’d no longer be talking with one another. You’d simply be listening to one another. That’s not dialogue. That’s diatribe. After enough diatribe, even the best listeners stop listening.” (The Quest, page 14; Lifeway Publishing) I was stopped in my tracks. “This is it, Lord.”
I once listened to a parenting DVD where the speaker stated, “If you lose your child’s ears, you’ve lost their heart.” So true! But that gem is key to all meaningful relationships. Who doesn’t want to be sought out? Who doesn’t want to be heard? Put it this way. When was the last time someone, who knows you well, asked “How are you?” (The clerk in the checkout doesn’t count. Nor does an acquaintance passing by who says it to fill dead air. They’re antsy to move on before you even open your mouth to answer.) Honestly, I can count on one hand, the number of physically present folks who ask me that question. And that includes family. I’m frequently the one asking questions & listening… sometimes to the point of zoning out on diatribes. I concur with the study. That’s not dialogue. And it certainly isn’t a building block to an intimate relationship. James 1:19 & 20 says, “But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, & slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” It’s easy to deduce why diatribe would lead to anger & frustration, especially in children. Devaluing neglect leads to angry feelings, be it child or adult.
Recently, my 3 oldest granddaughters (ages 15,14, &,12) were here for a visit. My favorite memory of our time together illustrates this principle of dialogue versus diatribe. The 5 of us were around the table having our favorite tea (Pickwick Earl Gray) in our birthday tea cups. We had Dutch almond patties (from my hometown bakery) & the lemon bread I made when they were younger. We all had a question card under our saucer, with 3 extras at the head of the table, for a total of 8. During the tea, we had to answer our question & pass it to the left. Eventually, we all answered the 8 questions. (You do the math. That’s 40) We were at the table for almost 2 hours. We shared our hearts in a manner that nurtured intimacy & made more lifetime memories. I can see the girls & hear their laughter. And the uncertainty, in body language, as they processed the questions. They learned just as much about their Aunt & Oma as we did about them. We were well beyond how are you & nowhere near diatribe. We were dialoging! It was awesome, & I thank the Lord for that relationship marker.
That being said, “How are you?” 😊 And where are you in the pursuit of intimate relationships…with God & with people? We can have 2-way dialogue with both. We can also engage in 1-way diatribe with both. Unlike people, I don’t believe God ever tunes us out. However, we certainly would be missing out if we didn’t stop talking, long enough, to listen. (Jeremiah 33:3)