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God is a Meddler

The power of communication: Best Tips for those tough and tense conversations & how to deal with arguments

The other week, Mum and I returned from a trip to Gibraltar. After spending so much time together, things were starting to come to the surface. We took a walk one evening and had a very powerful conversation. The conversation went a few different directions before it finally reached its desired destination, but in the process, we were truly able to practice communication.


What I was reminded of through our rehashing of the past and consideration of one another's feelings is how God does the same with us.


Our Heavenly Father is certainly not someone who lets sleeping dogs lie. He opens up old wounds, He puts things back on the platter and reawakens old heartbreaks: all in the ultimate attempt to rearrange and properly heal them rather than just patch things up with stitches. We have to learn to allow God to meddle in our relationships in order that they may grow and develop. And of course, in order that they may last.


Addressing relationships here certainly does not make me an expert. Over the years, I've experienced more bad and toxic relationships than good ones. Most friends in my life have always walked out of my life just as quickly as they came. Yet, as they say, practice makes perfect. I may have made a lot of mistakes but I also learned a lot from it.


"Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone."

(Colossians 4:6)



The key thing in any relationship -- friendship or romantic -- is communication. The Bible itself speaks endlessly of how important the tongue is. Colossians 4 talks of how conversations are important but they need attention and thought.


Therefore, I have prepared a few pointers to help anyone who shakes (I always do!) or sweats a little or maybe even gets a little angry when an intense conversation begins with a loved one.



What to remember:


1. You are no victim.


First of all, remember not to allow victimisation to take a toll on your conversation with a loved one. Deal with what you're receiving from the other person as if hearing it from a third eye perspective. Don't allow feedback or people sharing about you to make you feel lower than what Jesus has made you. It's good to admit to our flaws and mistakes, but that doesn't mean you need to bring down your entire self-esteem down with it.


Also, the other person can act like a victim also. So much so that you can find yourself in a situation where no matter how hard you try, you cannot seem to please that person. You may see that the person you're speaking to is constantly using language like "I'm always the one left to dry, I never get the support I deserve, you never seem to change, I hurt you because you hurt me first." That kind of attitude will mean that no matter what you'll do, that person will never feel truly loved. Always being the victim and acting accordingly is something that only you and God can deal with: it is no other person's responsibility to fix that. It is only yours, and God will help you with that. But without dealing with this matter first-hand, you can't create a stable relationship because you're constantly dealing with pride more than you are with character. Let the Lord meddle in those moments and don't put God aside, thinking you can handle it.



2. Assumption kills.


Second, don’t assume things before your heard them all the way through: ask questions and make your understanding known so that there is no pain inflicted out of mere misunderstanding. Sometimes we hear something someone said and instead of waiting to see what that person is trying to say, we jump straight into offence. Accusation solves no issue except the temporary satisfaction of feeling right. So think of it this way: is throwing away the peace in your relationship worth it for that two-minute pleasure?


Allow that person time to speak, ask them to clarify and repeat. And don't allow offence to take the process of communication between you two to a dead end. Also, if that person rephrases what they said and you clearly see that what you heard the first time was not their intention, then drop it. Release that statement and pray for deliverance from it in the name of Jesus. It's true, sometimes the enemy likes to bring those words back in your ear and build up tension and hatred toward that person because of it. But remember: unforgiveness harms you more than the other person, and even more so, it'll harm any chance your relationship has of growing.



3. Listen with more than your ears.


Thirdly, make sure you actually listen. If you are opening your heart up between you and a best friend, a brother, a long-term colleague, a partner, and you have reached a point where you're both sharing things that hurt you about the other, that's healthy. Communicating what bothers you is important because only that way can your relationship grow in stability. However, in those circumstances, it's true that it's far easier to dish it out than to take it. Half the time we either get offended and walk away without any attempt to regulate the situation, or we nod along then forget what was said five minutes later.


Don’t just hear what they have to say and then put it down. Have a real listen, analyse, put yourself in the shoes of the other person and ensure that you understand where they’re coming from. If you’re still unable to do it, pray about it. Pray right in the middle of the conversation if you have to or pray over a period of time afterwards that God will open your eyes to see what the other person may actually be feeling and if there is truth to it. It's important to receive feedback, chew and either swallow if it's been confirmed, or spit it out if you see that the other person is merely trying to hurt you.

 

There are three truths concerning knowing ourselves:

1. The truth you hold of yourself.

2. The truth only others can see in you.

3. The truth only God knows about you.

In order to truly become more like Christ, all three must be practiced.

 

It is important to hear what others see in you, just as you always want to hear what God says and has for you. Proverbs 3:35 reminds that only fools reject advice from others. Only by listening can we comlpetely avoid ignorance concerning our character and identity.


Therefore, praying for discernment in those tough conversations is very important. A lot of things can play a part in what is heard and said. At the end of the day, everything comes as opinion, so we need to separate what is mere opinion and what is truth. Things like manipulation, deceit, exaggeration, misunderstanding, judgement, jealousy, assumption, pity: all these things can impact the way another person treats you in that moment. What's most important is to speak and receive in love, with gentleness, and of course to do it all in wisdom. The Bible teaches us exactly that.


Never consider that an argument is finished as long as an apology is made.

The last thing I want to mention is when those conversations erupt (sometimes they can be spontaneous so take extra care with those), make sure you express yourself as well as possible, and do it without blame. Show and express how you feel-- for your feelings are valid-- but while you do it, don’t use a tone and language of blame and intention to simply hurt the other person. There's no point in creating tension and turning an opportunity for communication into a meaningless fight.


Communicate gently, maturely and as clearly as possible. Keep your cool and if things get a little heated, change the subject, pray about it or simply end the conversation altogether and come back to it the next day.


Do make sure to always return to the topic though, and never consider that an argument is finished as long as an apology is made. Ensure you both understood your wrongs and what the next step forward is, individually and together. An argument is not finished simply because 'sorry' was said. Do you know WHY you’re saying sorry? And what are you going to do to ensure it doesn't happen again? Remember, accepting an apology over and over again after clearly discussing it repeatedly yet still seeing no change is no longer opportunity for growth. That is manipulation and victimisation. Learn to discern the difference so that you know when a relationship is worth sticking around for, and when it does nothing more than harm you.


If a conversation leads you to feel small, insignificant, unloved, there is almost always a deeper reason behind it.

These are hard truths to write, I admit. And I know not everyone agrees with me. But the Holy Spirit teaches me about true wisdom in those important conversations and relationships, even when it means stepping on my own pride. Like I mentioned, I'm still very much learning myself, but one thing I've learned to never sacrifice on is my identity in Christ and my conviction. If a conversation leads you to feel small, insignificant, unloved, there is almost always a deeper reason behind it. Go and find out if the problem is them or you, then work with the Holy Spirit's gracious meddling, and fix it.


All practice of communication is a step forward. Every fight ensures a new victory and victory ensures new growth.


Let's keep growing together, striving to better our relationships and not being afraid to give and receive feedback. That way, we will grow into being more and more like Jesus.

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