As a spiritual mom, I’ve been writing about friendship over the last couple of weeks. While I thought I was done with the topic, today the words “What are you not saying?” are percolating in my spirit. I’m wondering how many friendships—relationships—end more because of what was not said rather than what was said.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw
Have you ever cushioned your words to someone? If you have, then you know there was quite a conversation in your head before you spoke. It took intention and effort to choose your message. Maybe you didn’t want to hurt their feelings, you feared rejection, you wanted to keep your options open or <add your excuse of choice>. By the time the conversation took place, you have your own story playing in the background. Your story is not the one that’s conveyed, leaving the listener at a distinct disadvantage. The result: the right communication never really took place.
I confess that I caught myself doing that this week. Well the truth be told, a good friend busted me in the very act of telling her my story. She wanted to know why I didn’t respect my other friend enough to tell her the truth. Ouch! Here I thought I was being kind and loving. The truth? Fear kept me silent. I deliberately misled her away from what was really going on. Don’t judge. I’m guessing some of you have done this as well.
In Ephesians 4:15 it speaks of a mature Christian who will “…speak the truth in love…” It does not say, sugarcoat the truth in love. We make assumptions about our listener’s ability to comprehend the truth when we try to make it more appealing. But, what does “that love” the Bible speaks of look like? Take time out to read a detailed explanation of love in 1 Corinthians 13. The words that jump out [at me] are love rejoices in the truth. When I put myself in the place of the listener, I can assure you that I want to hear truth. I don’t want to be misled or protected. Guess what? My friends deserve the same.
I’ve been listening to Lysa Terkeurst’s audiobook, It’s Just Not Supposed to be This Way. A powerful and loving gift for anyone who needs to find unexpected strength in the midst of disappointments. One of the things she said deeply impacted me and influenced this article. She said, “the downfall of a lot of relationships is directly correlated to conversations they never had.” I invite you to let those words simmer in your spirit. What are you not saying?
Truth matters. When I think of my past and failed relationships, I’m challenged to be honest with myself and ask, what was left unsaid? As a follow-up to my personal story, I did go back to my friend. I apologized for my dishonesty (that’s calling it what it really is) and I proceeded to share the complete truth. An open and healthy conversation followed. I felt God’s peace support me as I talked. I would like to think He was saying, “Atta girl—lesson learned.” This is not a happily ever after story. My friend and I have some things to sort out, but at least we know what they are. God can work with that and so can we.
Let’s stay connected. Friendships play a very important part in our life story. This article may conclude a trilogy on the subject, or I may be surprised with yet another perspective to share on friendship. You can help me decide by sharing any questions or comment you have. Please accept my invitation to email me at CoachMaggie@calledtoaction.com. If you don’t mind and to help others as well, I’ll share your questions/comments and my response. We are better together!
Photo by Ian Dooley