READINGOld Testament: Exodus 4:10-31
Psalms: Psalms 31, 35
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 14:1-19
Gospel: Mark 9:30-41
Evening Psalms: 35
DEVOTIONAL“Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you…? … So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.” (1 Cor. 14:6-9)
Communication is often difficult, even with those we hold most dear. I didn’t grow up in a house with strong role models for effective communication. Communication in my house meant silence and mumbled annoyance; there was never confrontation or debating of issues. It wasn’t until a number of years into my young adulthood that I understood this and realized that I needed and desired more when it came to communication. So, as an idealistic young adult, I pledged to myself that I would have open, honest communication in my next relationship. Sooner than I thought, I had to muster the courage to live up to that pledge.
I met my husband-to-be about three days after making that pledge to myself. Little did he know that he was about to receive my gift of communication and be required to give it in return. I soon discovered that communication -- honest communication -- is difficult, and it takes work. Giving up guarded conversation, having never truly expressed my fears, wants, and needs, took a conscious effort. It made me vulnerable, required forethought and tact, and it took practice. In the early days, I would sit next to him on the couch every couple of weeks and say something like, “So, I’ve been thinking…” He would get a carton of ice cream and a couple of spoons -- sugar makes most things sweeter, even the tough conversations. We would settle in and talk: there was laughter, tears, and a lot of explaining and reflecting -- but we found our way.
It is harder now with kids. Teaching children to “use their words” and reminding myself to listen to them, really listen when they talk. Helping them to voice their wants, needs, thoughts, feelings, and frustrations and to listen to others voice theirs as well -- it is an ongoing lesson, a give and take.
Heavenly Father, my prayer is that our children see what communication looks like, what love and healthy relationships look like, even through disagreements. May I always listen more than I speak, and speak so that others can understand. Amen.