May. 15, 2017

Circle or Cycle?

I visited with a close friend recently about our varying communication styles. My friend and I decided we end up in trouble when we do not really listen to what someone is trying to say to us or we don’t fully read something provided to us before formulating our response.

I realize there is a spiritual gift called, “discernment.” Yet, even those blessed with this gift should not claim they are 100% correct in their feelings or their intuition 100% of the time. God is teaching my friend and me to stop and decipher whether we communicate in a circle or in a cycle. It goes something like this:

Someone says/posts something. I absorb what I think they are saying. I take time to calculate my desire to respond or ignore the issue. I breathe hoping I can decide whether I am responding through the Holy Spirit or reacting in my own feelings. Once I’ve made the decision to speak/post, I need to be willing to acknowledge a) they put it out there, and b) I chose to respond.

What comes next is what determines if we live in the circle of completion or the cycle of dysfunction.

Completion looks like this: Someone says/posts something. I absorb what I think they are saying. I ask more questions to fully understand their point of view. I take a deep breath and pray asking God to teach me what He has to say in the conversation. Once I decide whether or not God has something to say through me, I either walk away or I respond within the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It takes maturity to remember that the other person has every right to react to my response, but that’s where it should end. We’ve completed the communication circle by a) listening, b) asking for clarification, c) calculating Christian thought, d) speaking truth in love even if our response isn’t lovely, and e) respecting the other person’s feelings.

Dysfunction looks like this: Someone says/posts something. I assume I know exactly what they mean and decide if I agree or if I am offended. I immediately lash out telling them exactly how I feel instead of taking some time to absorb and pray. I don’t really care if God has anything to teach me or say to me (OR through me!), I just want to make sure the other person knows I don’t agree with them. I react in anger, frustration, bewilderment, hurt, etc. (you know, all those negative feelings). The other person comes right back reacting in anger, frustration, bewilderment, hurt, etc. and we keep going and going and going and going. The cycle is unending.

Circles of completion affirm love and friendship. Cycles of dysfunction destroy relationships and wound people’s spirit. It’s really not spiritually wise or spiritually attractive to be a “Miss Smarty Pants.”

“Just as you don’t know the path of the wind, or how bones develop in the womb of a pregnant woman, so you don’t know the work of God who makes everything.” Ecclesiastes 11:5

Humility – it’s a tough spiritual discipline to master. The act or attitude of humility is about placing God and others above ourselves in importance. It’s a spiritual discipline because it does not come naturally; we must develop it.