Last week I had a very special catch-up time with one of my mentorees, who will be getting married this year. We had an interesting conversation about three levels of interaction, especially with couples who marry, or intend to marry. I think it can also serve as a blueprint for obtaining and keeping strong friendships. I suggested that for me these levels involve Chatting, Communication and Connecting.
Firstly is the Chat Stage. It is that moment of cringe-worthy small talk, where you have to somehow open your mouth and come out with a “chat-up” line to someone else, which will not have the other person having either glazed eyes or actually an eye-roll! If you can get past that opening line, it could actually lead to a conversation. The thought of this initial interaction taking place as so-called “Speed Dating” fills me with horror at such an appalling, anxiety-ridden situation. Bad enough to do this once, but multiple times in one night? Brownie points to those able to do so!
But from the early, possibly scary moments of the first line, can come a Communication Stage, which requires time, effort and commitment. Harriet Lerner wrote a great book called “The Dance of Intimacy”, and the concept of having to learn dance steps in conversation appeals to me. Sometimes you will tread on the “toes” of misunderstandings, preconceptions and genuine uncertainty until you come to a point of flowing and moving together. It can take a lifetime, so do not expect this to happen within the first 2 weeks!
For some relationships, whether they are leading to marriage, or to just a strong bond of friendship, the interaction may well end there. However, I believe that the strongest of bonds come when you are able to give yourself fully to the third stage – that of Connecting. Many people think they communicate well, but actually do not connect. The greater the connection, the more bonds are created. It is like joining together multiple bricks in a wall, interconnecting in many planes and angles, so that strength is formed. Such bonds take specific and deliberate action and time to come together, checking assumptions, clarifying statements and committing to one another to scrape through levels of possible hurt, in order to make sure that you actually understand one another. It also demands an exceptional determination to work for, and promote the very best for the other person.
For me, it is astonishing to think that Jesus was able to bypass Stage One – he has never needed a chat-up line – and went immediately to Communicating to us. This is why He is introduced to us in John’s Gospel as “The Word” (John 1:1). He was His own message. And by giving up His life that we might not only live, but become children of God, he brought the highest possible level of Connectivity possible. This was so wonderfully demonstrated when the veil of the temple split in two. Never again would anything stand in the way of separating us, or disconnecting us from The Father.
- Is your “spiritual broadband” a little “flaky” right now?
- What do you need to do to re-connect with God?