More on Metacommunication

Last week I shared the first part in a series on metacommunication: non-verbal cues we send and receive that makes communicating with others messy.

Today I’d like you to meet Cara and Kelly, roommates that communicate with far more than words.  Little things like Kelly’s set jaw and Cara forgetting to turn down the loud music communicate things.  Is this intentional or unintentional?  Are these friends correctly or incorrectly understanding one another?  How will they ever know?

Read more here.

Blessings,

Sheree

Loving the Light

Aside

Last night a group of ladies gathered at my home for a second book study meeting. I love preparing my heart and home for most any reason that involves a crowd — but knowing they were coming made my prep especially enjoyable. Our first meeting was characterized by rich fellowship, even though a few of us were meeting one another for the first time. I was anticipating another sweet time together.

I wasn’t disappointed.

As the room filled my heart warmed at the diversity in the group. There was a college aged cutie; several single adults; married women without kids; a first-time expectant mom about to deliver any day; two moms with little ones in their laps; a middle-aged wife with no children; and a couple of Granma’s like me. In a culture where segregating people by age or season of life is common and often preferred, I’m grateful that having a new little church means everything we do is necessarily…together.

My friend, Ariel, took this pic at our meeting last night. I love these women!

My friend, Ariel, took this pic at our meeting last night. I love these women!

After our first meeting two weeks ago one of the gals contacted me to ask if she could share her testimony at the next meeting. The warmth and safety she experienced at the first meeting as she listened to ladies open up about their struggles, coupled with beginning to read the book we are studying together, was opening her heart to some painful things in her life. The Lord stirred her to write down her thoughts and she felt compelled to share her musings with the group.

I was deeply affected by this desire. Why would a young woman who had met most of those in the room at our meeting for the first time want to open up painful, tender things about her life? God was clearly at work in ways I couldn’t and didn’t need to understand.

I opened the meeting last night with the plan: we would share how we were being affected by the book, pray for one another, and then hear a testimony of one of the ladies in the group. After I finished, my new friend sheepishly said, “Sheree, I’m not sure if I can do this. I just don’t know….I want to. But I don’t know if I can.”

I assured her she didn’t have to share and that just knowing she was willing to was a wonderful demonstration of God’s grace in her life. If she decided not to open up such tender parts of her life, that was completely fine.

However, as the meeting winded down she said, “No. I want to do this. I need to do this.”

The rest of our meeting was filled with holy moments. The vulnerability and humility we all witnessed was compelling. As she read her words through tears, many of us cried along with her. The pain, shame and suffering she described touched areas in our own hearts. All of us could relate to her story in some way. We all know what it’s like to fail and to be hurt by others. She was in the company of fellow broken, weak and flawed women.

And when she was done something wonderful happened. Woman after woman thanked and commended her. The risk she took to share her life with us was met with compassion and care. The gospel was on display and we were all honored to have been entrusted with such a precious gift: the gift of disclosure that wasn’t treated as exposure. (A wonderful distinction I’ve learned from friends at the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation.)

Her testimony ended with a recognition that the painful things through which she has walked, even those that were the consequences of sinful choices she made along the way, have all been used by a faithful God for good in her life. She even said that she isn’t afraid of future hardships and suffering because of all God has done through the dark times in her life.

Yes, we were on holy ground.

Do you have someone with whom you can share your story? We are all like my friend who opened her heart last night: people who have sinned, been sinned against (sometimes in vile ways) and who live in a fallen world with the resulting consequences of pain, shame, disappointment and discouragement. When we keep our “secrets” in the dark, they grow and often haunt us. When we, however, find a safe person or people to whom we can disclosure things hidden or tucked away, the light dispels the darkness and we see with new eyes.

Choosing the “right” person or people is really important. At times I have unwisely opened my heart and life to people because it felt like the right thing to do and ended up regretting my decision when their responses made me realize I spoke prematurely. Gratefully, though, God has put a few people in my life to whom I can pour out the good, bad and ugly of my past and present struggles.

The light can be a little blinding at times. We all know the feeling of needing to allow our eyes to adjust when we leave a dark room. But the warmth and clarity that only the light can bring are needed and welcomed when God provides a safe and caring place to be honest.

I’m glad my new friend found that place. And I’m glad I was there on a front row seat watching God’s amazing work in her life.

I love the light.

The Beauty of Brokenness

Yesterday I was talking about not apologizing for God’s will. A friend commented on the post, saying, “…although there are trying circumstances weighing on me, the good far outweighs the bad. I can speak like the Israelites who said in Psalm 126:1, ‘When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.'”

I’m asking myself if I am one of “those who dream.”

I think part of what I’ve been walking through recently is the disappointment of some of my dreams not coming true. Here’s an example…

When I was younger (umm, much younger) I dreamed that Benny and I would serve at the same church for forever and ever. We started a church at age 25 and then spent two decades growing and serving and sinning and making memories together. Many of the people who helped get the church off the ground persevered through the hard work, challenges and leadership changes — and are still there three decades later. In those early years we talked about being buried in the woods behind the building we all sacrificed to see happen…and mused about replacing the little ones we held in our arms during worship with our future grandchildren someday.

Two churches and lots of gray hairs later, I now hold my grandchildren hundreds of miles away from that place. Sometimes I still battle sadness over forever and ever not happening there.  With them. I see pictures of their grown-up children on facebook and remember holding them in my lap, then wonder, “Do those kids even know who I am?”

Then I think about the people I wouldn’t otherwise know. The tears and prayers and fellowship and laugh-till-I-cried moments that wouldn’t have happened with friends I wouldn’t have gained. The trials and suffering that awaited me here in Florida that I needed to get to so I could experience God’s help in delightful, sanctifying ways.

Broken dreams are hard to handle. Until I think of Eden. I think about how God’s perfect and beautiful plan for His image-bearers was broken by sin. Yet even before the garden was created, God devised a plan. From the brokenness came a glorious plan of redemption that put God’s wisdom and love on display when our sinless Savior paid the ultimate price.

When I was dreaming about forever and ever, God knew my dreams wouldn’t be fulfilled my way. But how can I not praise Him for the experiences and people that wouldn’t have otherwise happened if there was really a place for me to be buried out in those woods?

It’s like seeing a lovely mirror crashed and broken on the floor.  Now, rather than one piece of reflective beauty, there are many. My broken dream has resulted in numerous unsolicited yet precious gifts — including a brand new church to which God knew my broken dream would lead.

My friend reminded me of dreaming. I hope her reminder blesses you today.

Dream on.