Deeper relationships develop when we initiate with others. It can lead to great conversations that look like dancing the waltz on a ballroom floor. The other person leads and you follow. Then you lead and they follow. It’s a thing of beauty. In both cases our lives are enriched. Listen in to learn how.
Picking up where we left off in last week’s episode
In Last week’s episode, no. 143, I wanted to demonstrate the relational New Year’s resolution I suggested in episode 141. Namely, initiate with people. So I contacted a previous guest on this podcast, a missionary serving in Eastern Europe by the name of Josephine. It isn’t her real name, but for security reasons in her part of the world, I’m calling her that.
I initiated with her to give you some ideas of how you could do the same thing with people in your life. I found our conversation interesting and encouraging as I learned more of her story and how God has been leading her and caring for her. But we ran out of time last week, so I want to finish sharing our conversation with you today. If you missed the start of our chat from last week I’ll have a link to it at the bottom of the show notes.
In that episode, I interjected a few observations as we went along. Today, however, I share those observations at the end.
So let’s get into today, beginning with a question I asked about Josephine about the people she lives and works with in Eastern Europe.
[I’m sorry, but there’s no transcript of our conversation. To listen to the episode go to the top of the page and click on the gold play button in the white circle next to the episode title]
The end wasn’t the end
Wasn’t that interesting? [i.e., the guest interview] It sure was for me, especially near the end.
There was a period of awkwardness for me where it seemed like I had run out of questions to ask Josephine. Thinking we were about finished, I asked her, “are there any last thoughts or things you have to say?” In other situations, people will often say something along the lines of, “No, I think we’ve covered everything.”
But this is when the conversation changed and Josephine took over and said something along the lines of
“In terms of relationships, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately….”
To my way of thinking it became the richest part of our time together where she talked about her feelings of saying goodbye to people, grieving relationships that end, and the challenge that brings. And even the opportunities it creates. Josephine had a lot to say about this topic.
A listening waltz
When our conversation took a turn more to the heartfelt it reminded me of an important listening principle, that good listening is like dancing a waltz. One person leads, the other person follows. In the beginning, I was leading, and Josephine followed. She followed well. But then she took over and started to lead by sharing her reflections about relationships, that were independent of anything I asked before. And I just followed her around the listening ballroom dance floor.
Watching people waltz is a thing of beauty, and being part of a really good heartfelt conversation is a thing of beauty, too. You lead for awhile, your partner follows. Then they lead and you follow. What a privilege it is to both lead, AND follow someone else’s line of thinking and feeling. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Good conversations leave you wanting more.
My interaction with Josephine reminds me that when we initiate with others, a really good conversation will leave you wanting to know more. And the great thing is wanting to know more about the other person is how relationships deepen and how it enriches our lives. For example, with Josephine, I’d like to know more about
- Her two friends who left in January (we recorded the episode in Mid-December) What were they like? What will she be looking for in new friends to fill in the gap of this loss?
- I’d like to know more about what Josephine is learning about hospitality from the lady down the street that she’s not finding in books.
- Then there’s the challenge she faces of working alone she mentioned. What’s that like for her? How does she deal with this?
- I’d like to know more about how she’s processing the grief and losses she experiences. I loved how in our discussion she talked about being very specific in naming her losses and then feeling them. I’d like to hear a story or two of how she does that. I should have asked, “Can you give me an example of that.”
- And then I sensed a bit of sadness in her voice as she talked about the grief of relationships that come to an end. I wonder if I sensed it accurately, though. I’d like to know more about this.
- I wonder too, how as a leader of missionary teams, does she help those she leads deal with the losses they experience.
Affirm people, cheer them on
And then as our conversation came to a close, I just felt it was an honor for Josephine to have shared with me what was on her heart. She talked about some deeply personal and tender things that I felt needed a response from me. So without even thinking, I shared what was on my heart about what I heard from her.
I told her I was proud of what she does and the way she does it. I mentioned that I saw what she does as being important work. I just felt the need to affirm her the best I could at that moment. We need to do this for each other whenever we can.
So what does all this mean for YOU?
How can you use what you’ve heard today to improve the relationships in YOUR life?
Initiate with others. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Ask God who you should initiate with, and then bless the person by listening well to their story. Affirm them when you can. Be their cheerleader. It will bring out the best in them, and the best in you.
Another thing you can do is read the Necessary Endings book Josephine mentioned. It’s by Dr. Henry Cloud. It’s a very good book. A major theme Cloud writes about is that to experience God’s best for us we sometimes have to end things before we can move on. Josephine talked a little about this. The author gives lots of examples from the Bible and his own counseling practice to illustrate this concept.
Here’s the main takeaway I hope you remember from today’s episode
When we initiate with others great conversations become like ballroom dancing. They lead, we follow, and both our lives are enriched. It deepens our relationships with people.
In closing, I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to consider initiating with someone. And as we talked about last week in episode 143, you make the first contact and see what happens. See what God does. I’d love to know how it goes for you.
Because when you initiate with people there’s a good chance you will find the joy God intends for you in relationships. For surely you must know by now, You Were Made for This.
That’s it for today. In the meantime, spread a little joy in your relationships this week until we meet up again next week. Goodbye for now
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