Here it is, January. The start of a new year, some people might refer to it as fresh, but I think there are far better synonyms to describe the beginning of a new year. Personally, I love the word “brave”--a brave start, a brave new year. When the new year rolls around, there’s never a shortage of past year reflections, and here I am to offer another reflection for you to mull over.
In 2017, I learned a lot about people and how communication affects relationships. It was an amazing year in so many respects, and also a very trying year. That is why, this year is going to be a year of bravery, especially bravery in communication. There were instances where my own relationships crumbled because there was too much communication or not enough; the balance is always hard, because everyone is different. I cannot say that I am an expert, in any way, shape, or form, but I do talk to a lot of people on a regular basis so I feel like that qualifies me to offer some of my own insights.
I can think of many specific times where brave communication would have only increased the quality of my life but I left it lagging behind me in an uproar of dust and absolutely no glory. I really wish I would’ve used more common sense a lot of the time, but I didn’t so what the heck can ya do, you know?
But, through all the unfortunate mishaps, I’ve learned that there is so much importance in learning to be brave, especially through communication--in relationships, at work, at home, at the store, getting coffee. You name it! Sometimes, most of the time actually, it's pretty terrifying. Learning what that looks like for you takes time. Sometimes, silence is bravery because fighting for connection is more important than being "right." However, other times, bravery is standing for what you believe.
If there's one thing I could strongly urge you to learn in your process of what it looks like to courageously communicate, it would be: be open to constructive criticism and realize you may not be right about everything. You guys, this one is EXTREMELY difficult for me. I have learned however, most people are actually out to make sure you succeed and they genuinely want to see you thrive--trust them when they present something to you.
Life often throws curve balls into relationships making them difficult to navigate simply because you’re not sure how to stand in bravery. One of the foundations of bravely communicating is love. It takes love to know when to stand and when to sit and listen. Learn how the people around you process--internally or externally; learn their love languages, their personality types, their reactions when they’re stressed out and when they feel peaceful. If you can make someone feel like they matter even before the “confrontation” commences, you are more likely to have a smooth conversation.
The task of getting to know these things might seem daunting, but in the long run, it will not only help your close relationships, but it will also help future relationships. The more comfortable you are bravely communicating with many different types of people, the better your conversations will go. When people feel known they feel loved, and then in turn, they feel safe making it more comfortable to open up in conversation.
During conversation, it is important to voice your opinions and concerns, but it is just as important to close your mouth and open your mind. Listen, actually listen. Put all of your bias on the back burner and really be open to what they have to say. When you are really listening out of openness the conversation will flow much easier. You’ll be able to give an honest response out of love, not a brash response out of your opinions.
This is basically like every rom-com plot in the history of the world. Guy and girl have their meet-cute, they fall in love but they’re not telling each other things, all of a sudden everything blows up and they get into a knock down drag out fights, because let’s be honest, their communication is seriously awful. We all sit there on the edge of our seats yelling at the screen, telling them to get it together and just listen, to “talk it out.” Then, resolve comes. One of the supporting roll characters, usually the weird best friend, gives them some tough love and convinces them to make amends. Here’s the catch though, they always just apologize, say they love each other tremendously. There’s not really any resolve, they never show us what happens after that “happily ever after.” Here’s what I think happens; boy and girl ride off into the sunset, in Joshua Tree or some other cool location, on his super dope cafe racer, they find a cute loft apartment [at least, I hope they do,] but then one day all hell breaks loose. Susie and Dan are at the grocery store and he grabs the wrong cereal. Susie told him 1,000 times they can’t buy that kind, it’s too fattening. Eww. But, let’s be honest, she’s really upset that he doesn’t listen to her anymore, she’s not mad about cereal. She holds in all her boiling anger until they make it to the parking lot. Next thing you know, Susie is using her most colorful language at a ridiculously high decibel; Dan is just frozen. A crowd is forming. Nothing is going well.
Colossians 3:8 “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.”
Now, imagine if Susie would have handled it differently from the beginning. It would be better, they could calmly chat about it and figure out the best way to work through it together, solve the issue, and move the heck on. This is where communication comes in handy, especially brave communication. You’ve really got to trust the Lord to lead you, trust the peace he gives.
Lastly, in communication, you're partnering with peace. It is going to walk beside you, to either help you stand in bravery or realize there's some things that need to be worked on.
I realize my dramatization might have been pretty ridiculous, but that’s just to emphasise the silliness of many of the reasons we get upset. Most of the time, we have such horrible communication because of assumptions we’re making about the other person and our inability to hold our tongues.Relationships are a tricky business because there is no formula to understanding people. There are going to be good days where there's not a care in the world and there will be days where you feel like everything is crumbling and there is no tomorrow. In the midst of those days, remember that brave communication done in kindness is love. You may want to throw in the towel, but you never know what someone is going through until you ask. Now, go out into the world and love fiercely and communicate bravely, I have every faith that you are going to kill it, in the best way!