Have you ever given much thought to what we talk about? Conversations are constantly going on in this world. >From the North Pole to Antarctica, chatter can be heard in different languages among people of different races. Conversation is as universal as Coca Cola. Chatter,chatter chatter! If there were Aliens and they were able to listen in to our chatter what might they think of us? Imagine if we were able to track every conversation on planet earth for a 24 hour period. What would be the top 10 themes? What might we learn about the condition of our souls?
Seeing that there are no Aliens listening in (at least I don’t think there are....) let me share some of my insights about what I learn as I listen, observe and chatter back.
Longing to connect
I think regardless of the topic, the fact that we converse demonstrates our need to connect. I imagine that one of the first things Adam did when Eve was created was not just to look (Wow) but to connect through words. Words help us build bridges to people (most times) and allow us to share the private thoughts of our inner person. Words help us validate our experiences, express our frustrations and reassure us that we are not alone with some of our very personal and deep struggles.
One observation is that words sometimes pop up and out because people are uncomfortable with the silence. People do different things with awkward silence. Some just walk away, others look down studying the floor, others stare off.....somewhere. However, others fill the void with words and lots of them.
Listening to some people’s words and the tones they are packaged in, quickly shows that their words are bleeding their pain. Every word, every sentence reveals a hurting heart. For some their pain has lingered for so long that almost every personal dialogue is framed by pain. You can hear it in their words and you can see it in their faces.
One thing I have been recently challenged with is how conversations can reveal how big or small our world is. Certainly, there is a place for small talk, after all what would we do without small talk on an elevator or in the foyer of a church? Unfortunately, for some, their conversations reveal that the world they live in is very small. Instead of dreaming and envisioning, their chatter reveals a heart that is not growing, not risking, not asking big questions.
Our conversations sometimes reveal that we are in ruts. We talk about the same thing day in and day out. Our conversations are like tire tracks on an old dirt road. We’ve been down that road hundreds of times. I think we sometimes struggle in knowing how to go deeper. Sometimes I do! Some don’t want to go deeper because deeper means being more vulnerable, thus it is safer to stay with the usual safe talk. Ruts can represent safe places, calculated responses and measurable risk.
As I move into 2009 I am looking forward to conversations. Conversations that will challenge me, inspire me, draw me closer to God and to the hearts of people. I am looking forward to encountering people who will help me go deeper in my chatter and think clearer in my dialogue. I am also looking forward to those seemingly meaningless conversations we sometimes have, and looking for God in the chatter. Sometimes conversations we may think are going nowhere are a God moment! I want to be sure I am listening!