It’s important to ask good questions, not to pin somebody in a corner (because that usually only makes the person fight with every defense possible to escape) but to help them explore the reasons behind the decisions they make.
Person #1: Why do you help people?
Person #2: Because it’s the right thing to do.
Person #1: But who says it’s the right thing to do?
Person #2: It just is. Do you really believe it’s not the right thing to do?
#1: I’m not saying that. I’m just curious, because, personally, I believe it’s the right thing to do because God instructs and leads me to help people. It’s His way. I do it to honor Him. But you don’t believe in God, right?
#2: Well, I’m not sure I would go that far. He might exist, but I’m not a fanatic about him, you know? I don’t revolve my life around him. I don’t think he is the ultimate authority who guides everything.
#1: I get what you’re saying. And I’m still curious. If God or someone else doesn’t say it’s important to help people, but we–and many others–agree that it is, where does that value come from?
#2: I see where you’re going with this. We’re about to get into that “there must be absolutes and so God must be in charge” discussion. But I don’t think it’s all about God. I like to help people. It makes me feel good!
#1: If making people helps you feel good, then is helping people more about them or about you?
#2: Well, them, of course.
#1: It’s just an interesting thing to consider, I think. We’re not going to solve this or agree on everything, but isn’t it good to ask ourselves why we do what we do? I mean, what assumptions, beliefs, and misconceptions do we have? And I’m not just talking about you. I need to constantly ask myself questions, too, if I want to grow. I’m confident in a lot of things, but I certainly don’t want to ever assume I have all the answers and should stop exploring.
#2: Yeah. I think we can definitely agree on that.
Sometimes, as Christians, we can excel at picking apart people’s behavior. We can find fault in their logic. But can we find patience to interact with respect and authenticity?
I hope so.
A group of four women sat at the water’s edge, side by side, looking out on the water stretched far beyond them as they chatted and laughed. A group of four men stood in a circle in the deeper water, far enough away to have private conversations but close enough to pass something along to the women if necessary. I heard an older gentleman walk up to the women and joke, “I’m doing a sociology experiment and just wanted to know: what’s wrong with those men that they abandoned all you women at once?” One woman responded, “They didn’t abandon us. We told them to go away. We needed some girl time.”
We all do.
Some have no trouble seeing the need for girl time. They regularly set days aside, make their friendships a priority, and get rejuvenated by the connections. Others struggle with the concept. They’ve been hurt by girls and women through the years. They assume girl time is all about giggles, pink, silliness, fakeness, and judgment. But girl time requires none of those things. It’s specific to each relationship or group. For some, girl time is quiet conversation over a cup of coffee, a walk in the part, story-telling, deep discussion, or some kind of creative expression.
Girl time is meeting each other where we are, finding common ground, inviting each other into our lives and risking vulnerability to reveal ourselves, too. It’s not saying “This is me; take it or leave it” or “This is the image of the me I want you to see.” It’s “This is me right now. But I’m growing, changing. I want to be more. I want to be real with you. I want you to know my strengths and weaknesses. I want to share the joys and harshness of life. I want to be able to talk about the tough stuff with you, and I want you to be able to challenge my way of thinking and behaving.”
Of course, not every moment of girl time is serious, but it’s meaningful. It can be nourishing, healing, uplifting, and challenging. Friendships are risky. They’re messy. But so is life. Life is also full of hope, joy, and possibilities.
So are friendships.
Go to your room and think about what you’ve done!
Can someone actually make you think? I remember when I’d instruct one daughter to apologize to the other, knowing her heart might not be in it but hoping a seed of forgiveness would be planted and later grow. It’s really a heart versus head issue. We can’t make someone feel a certain way or think about something, but we can set up circumstances that foster the likelihood of thoughts and feelings. We can help people pause.
My husband and I tried this after we’d been married several years. We realized we’d begin discussing something and stop listening well, making assumptions and judgments, and before we knew it, our “discussion” wasn’t productive at all! We needed a pause button. I ran across a small ceramic token at a gift shop. It said “Good for 10 minutes of quiet.” Just what we needed! Our rule was that each of us could use the token one time per week, and we would both walk away from the conversation for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes, we had to reconnect and either continue or agree that we’d set the issue aside.
We soon learned we didn’t need the token. All we needed was the opportunity to pause. When we knew we could take a 10 minute timeout at any time, we seemed to work harder at not letting discussions escalate. We worked through the issues as they arose instead of lashing out at each other.
Where do you most need a pause button in your life?
Create your own token! It can be a small stone or a decorated piece of paper. Keep it in the same location, so you know where it is. Determine a few guidelines for using it. If you’re using it within a relationship, be sure to consider everyone involved. The token isn’t intended to help you manipulate a situation. It’s all about developing healthy habits, so you – and others – can grow in your responses.
I think about your orders and study your ways. I enjoy obeying your demands, and I will not forget your word. Psalm 119:15-16