“Ready, Set, GO!”
Just like that our two oldest were racing to the end of the paved patio and back to the table where Tom and I sat, our baby on the ground in the car seat between us. It was a beautiful fall Saturday and we were enjoying a family rhythm we enjoyed in that sweet season of life. Without fail, each Saturday we would pack up the kids and head to our local Panera where we would enjoy a breakfast of carbs and caffeine. We unpacked the gear that a family with three littles travels with ( even if it’s just 2 miles down the road) at a table in the outside seating area. Happy, foot tapping music played over the outside speakers often inspiring our children to dance and run. That hour or so we spent indulging in good food and fellowship with our family of five is time I consider not only a fun memory but an incredibly wise and important investment of time. To this day my absolute favorite moments in life are when our fam of five – now 6 with the addition of our bonus son, husband to our oldest, are together.
I recently learned that the two most important characteristics of a strong and healthy organization are :
Safety and Connection.
Makes sense doesn’t it? Think of the places you land each day: home, work, church, clubs, places you volunteer. I’m guessing the places you love the most – make you feel
1. Safe and
2. Connected to the others you are with and to the organization.
What a challenge we all face now as we look at the events of this last week in our world. The two areas in our everyday lives that were attacked –
- Our feelings of Safety.
- Our connection with others – often times people we have known and loved our entire lives.
On top of the disturbing pictures we saw of the activity on our countries capital were the conversations people were willing to have on public platforms about their opinions of these actions. I witnessed friends and family post and accuse and then be offended when someone did not agree and then continue the back and forth publicly. Small sparks were happening all over social media – some growing to raging fires that I pray will someday be extinguished. As I willingly chose to view these conversations I was taken back to my very first ” Big Girl Conversation.” It was the first time in my life that I remember sitting down with someone, face to face, toe to toe, knee to knee, that I did not agree with. I was so nervous and uncomfortable about our appointment I almost cancelled. I had functioned through all 33 years of my life simply not dealing with conflict. I’d sweep things under the rug, turn the other cheek and live with the bitterness and resentment that follows such actions.
This time. This time was different. I made a decision to show up and face the person and issue head on, like an adult. Let me rephrase – like a healthy adult. The relationship I shared with this person was professional. We shared rented building space that was the base for each our home based businesses. We had served side by side and I respected her wisdom in many areas. But…. we had come to a disagreement and it became clear that a conversation was needed. I categorize this moment as defining. I can still remember what I wore, the smell of the coffee shop where we met and the peace I felt as I sat down across the table from my friend. We had both chosen to show up with the intent to first, listen to each other. Second, repeat what we felt we heard and third, willing to ask permission before we shared our idea for a solution. In those moments of feeling heard, desiring to hear and healthy back and forth I learned the power of healthy confrontation. It had moments that were uncomfortable. There were times that comments were made that attempted to trigger words I knew I would later regret if spoken. We pressed in together in the muddy waters of disagreement and came to a solution. It was better than either of us could come up with on our own. The bitterness I walked in with drained like the coffee from our cups. It was a freedom I quite honestly had never felt before in a relationship outside of my husband. Sharing our truths with those we disagree with can be the starting point for new perspectives, deeper trust and healthier relationships moving forward. The lesson I learned that day has served me well for the last 18 years. When I feel a conflict rising between myself and anyone – I hunger for conversation. I’ve seen the magic that happens when the light of sharing our true selves is shone.
As I’ve pondered my response and responsibility to the current state of our nation my mind floats back to my Saturdays at Panera. The times when our family felt :
This is the space where I will start. How are those closest to me doing? How are we each interpreting the actions of those around us? What conversations will be helpful for us as we continue to foster safe, connected space? Like rings on a target, with my family and relationship with God in the center, I’ll move out to check on others in order of my influence and responsibility. It can be a hard and uncomfortable task…. sometimes, many times it just feels easier to hop on a social media platform and vomit all the yuck thats inside. From my experience this week, it doesn’t appear to work. The stench still lingers.
As I pray for our nation today I begin with a prayer of personal repentance. I ask for a window into the conversations I need to have and a desire to first listen, second listen and third listen some more. I want to pull up my chair to the table… face to face, toe to toe, knee to knee…. and I invite you to pull up a chair as well. As we begin to invest in the hard conversations with the people closest to us…. I believe the peace we are seeking will manifest. Jesus modeled this for us all throughout scripture – He engaged in open, honest, hard conversations. He listened and he lingered and he spoke truth in love. Let him be our guide, seek his presence and his wisdom. Trust that he is the healer of all things, including relationships with those we love most.
Saturday – a day for strong coffee, good carbs, deep breaths after a week of hard. Pour a second cup today …. follow the Lords leading to the conversations he wants you to have….
and let the healing begin.