I am pretty big on communication. Not necessarily a big talker that likes a lot of words, but someone who craves good and effective communication. When I was a senior in high school, I even won the title of Tyler Area Best Communicator. I still like to occasionally refer to myself with Nathan as the Tyler Area Best Communicator, mostly because I actually beat him out for that award, and there are so few times in my life where this happens that I must occasionally bring them up to keep his ego in check.
Bad communication in relationships is such a killer. For Nathan and me in our current season of marriage and kid raising, limited time together makes it hard to maintain communication. Time where we are in the same room feels rare. Time where we are able to really talk, apart from other people or kids, almost doesn’t happen. So that’s brought us to texting. I do love texting, and it’s a great way to maintain a connection when you’re apart. It’s unobtrusive, but then it’s also disjointed. It often revolves around one-liners rather than an ongoing conversation. It’s random bursts, to be answered whenever. Check out my example. Nathan was out of town. I knew he was very busy leading a workshop and I didn’t know when he could talk. So I dropped him a text so he could respond whenever.
Hmm. Something told me we weren’t exactly on the same page. Sometimes our communication resorts to throwing out thoughts of what we need or what we are focused on, rather than responding to what the other person is saying. Nathan did it here, but I do it, and you probably do too. In my marriage, this type of communication seems to happen the most when Nathan is out of town, or when our schedules are so full that we aren’t spending much time together.
I started thinking about my communication with God. I was sad to realize it’s often similar. Generally, there is a little chunk of time in the morning where God and I have a really nice interactive conversation. I do a fair amount of listening as well as pouring out my heart. It’s focused, uninterrupted time for us to talk. But then a lot of the day isn’t like that. A lot of the day is more like those texts between Nathan and me. It’s me spouting off something I need or want. I just “text” God a one-liner and then I’m done for a while. No waiting for response or opening up a dialogue with him. I don’t check in during the day with God too much without an agenda of my own. I don’t make time to have two-way communication with him, where I listen and respond to his words to me. And then I wonder why we aren’t closer, or why I don’t feel on the same page with him. If I want my relationship with my husband to be good and to grow, I have to continually spend time engaged in focused, ongoing conversation. I have to make time for that, because it doesn’t just happen on its own. Neither does my time with God. The one-liners don’t cut it. When my relationship is built and functioning solely on those, it’s in “survival” and maintenance mode and it’s not good. It’s not a fun place to be.
So this week I”m thinking about how I can make sure that those most important to me (specifically, God and Nathan) know that they are important by my communication. Can I put aside what I think I need or want to simply be a good listener? Am I willing to engage in the conversation when I’m busy or it’s not convenient? What would it take to make our communication better?