There’s a richness to learning together in community. Today’s episode is listeners sharing what they’ve learned so far in this podcast, which will hopefully encourage and stimulate your thinking about relationships.

For several years Janet and I have had season tickets to our local repertory theater company. We go with three other friends and see five plays each season. What makes it more fun and interesting is that the five of us go out after the play and discuss it over dinner. Invariably, someone will make a comment about something some of us missed, which leads to an interesting discussion that enriches the whole experience of attending a play. It’s much more enjoyable going as a group than going it alone.

Listening to a podcast is different, obviously. It’s something you do solo while taking the dog for a walk, the kids to school, mowing the lawn, or other mindless activities.

But I thought you might find it interesting if we could adapt my theater-going experience to podcast listening. Where we process the experience as a group of listeners and learn from others what we may have missed.

To that end, in today’s episode I’ll be sharing selected responses from our listeners about past episodes, along with a few of my own thoughts, in the hope of adding to the value you may have already gleaned from prior shows. Hopefully you’ll pick up on something new you may not have thought about.

I’ll have links in the show notes to the episodes referenced in case you missed them, or want to re-listen to any.

So let’s give this a try. I didn’t ask permission to use listeners’ names, so I changed everyone’s name. Their names aren’t real, but their response are.

Maggie, a missionary in the UK wrote “Your podcast is easy to listen to and compelling. This is a great resource for missionaries, so you have been my cooking companion when I listen, and just good ‘ole down time to really concentrate. I’m cheering you on from the UK.”

I’m really pleased Maggie sees this as great resources for missionaries, since that is what motivated me to start this podcast about relationships. I never thought of listening to a podcast while cooking, but I’ll have to give that a try. Both cooking, and listening to podcasts at the same time. I’m not so good at multi-tasking.

And then her comment “I’m cheering you on from the UK.” This gives me an idea for another podcast episode on the cheerleaders in our life. What a great blessing to have someone cheering you on! What a great privilege to be a cheerleader ourselves for someone.

So two things I gained from Maggie’s comments: 1. Listen to podcasts while cooking. 2. Be grateful for those cheering you on, and if no one is, be a cheerleader for someone else! Thanks, Maggie.

Earl from South Carolina.“Your email is great. I will listen this afternoon while painting. I loved your relationships quote (from episode 9 Shadows Connect Us with Each Other) It was on the podcast the day before our dog Lucy died. It was very comforting. “Life only begins when it ends here on earth, that all that is here is only the prologue before the curtain goes up.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

From Earl, I learn that doing some semi-mindless task like painting, can be a good time to listen to podcasts. Secondly, there’s a lot of power in the relationship quote at the end of each weekly podcast. In Earl’s case, it’s the power of words to comfort. So glad to know Bonhoeffer’s words did this for Earl. Thirdly, it stimulates my thinking about the life after this one, and how the two relate to each other. It also provoked some thoughts about the relationship humans have with their pets. I can see a podcast episode on this topic.

Doug. “The podcasts make me think. They teach short practical things that should be part of growing up that somehow I missed, but then I realize I have learned things and continue to learn….you have been bringing out the best in me as I practice these (relationship) skills.”

It’s encouraging to know this podcast is making Doug. think, and that he is finding practical things he can do. I hope it does the same for you, too. Doug. also raises something obvious about relationships that I had not considered before. And that is, some of us are relationally deficient in one area or another, because of how we grew up. We never learned the relational skills we needed to learn.

This helps me to extend a little more grace to people. I hope it does for you as well.  And I love it when he says the podcast “brings out the best in me.” I hope the same is true for you.

Gus wrote about the funeral service we did for Julie in episode 15. This is the one where the woman in her 30’s had never fully grieved the death of her parents in a tragic car accident that happened when she was just 4 years old. Gus wrote:

“I think about things in my life where I have chosen to not address over many years that have weighed me down (and continue to weigh me down). It is far better to grieve that which is lost, to let God do the healing.”

I like how listening to this particular episode brought about introspection on Gus’s part. He saw similarities in Julie’s story of how she could not fully grieve the loss of her parents, with his own story.

I hope we all see some of our story in the story of others in the podcast. How they live their story can teach us how to live ours.

Linda. Listener and friend from Colorado Janet we and I have known for years, wrote to say she appreciates that Janet and I point people to Jesus and to others. “I have a pile of books or articles that have been of influence to me that you have mentioned or used, along with a new take on a Biblical character or passage.” I pray that God will provide your needs so that you can carry on, a somewhat selfish prayer really, but God knows that too so I don’t think it bothers him one bit.”

What encourages me about Linda’s feedback is that books and articles people publish have the power to change lives. That’s one thing. The other is that though we may have read Bible passages and characters, we can often learn something new about them when we hear what the Holy Spirit is teaching other people. There’s always something fresh we can find in God’s word if we look or it.

Claire “The episode on grief ( #9 or 15) was tremendously important for me to listen to. Today, for instance, I picked up my friends to go to a birthday party for another friend in our small group. When he rang the bell at our friend’s house someone asked who was downstairs. His answer was ‘Claire and her folks.’ I couldn’t help but get excited about it. As a single I not often get the chance to show up ‘with my folks’ (It carried the emotional meaning of family.) I felt so blessed by this small spontaneous act of kindness. Maybe I’ve never grieved the lack of relationship skills in my family, but I certainly rejoice over the meaningful relationships outside of family that God’s been providing for me. I did not feel isolated or lonely, but enjoyed the bunch of people celebrating our mutual friend.”

Claire is a single missionary in Western Europe and her story so encouraged me in my faith. It’s a story of God doing something so small by giving her friend the phrase, It’s “Claire and her folks,” which so touched her, and how it compensated for the lack of closeness she has with her family of origin. If God will do this for Claire, he’ll do that for me from time to time. I really love this story. God will do the same for you, too!

Marie  “I listened to the episodes about the millennial and her Gen Z sister. (that would be episodes 17-18-19) I loved what they said about the church. It was really interesting to hear their perspective on life. I like the idea of interviewing people outside your tribe. Why in the world would they let the bird inside their bathroom??? That was so funny.”

Before I close, here’s the he main take-away from today’s episode, our show in a sentence

When we ask people to share their thoughts about shared experiences we have with them, we’ll often be encouraged and stimulated in our thinking as we learn what they have learned.

Here’s a way you can respond to today’s show

Think of someone you have a shared experience with and ask them what they thought of it. How did they react emotionally to it? And especially try to see if they have a different perspective on what you experienced together. Doing this is just one way to enrich our relationships

Coming up next week

What do you think is the toughest job in America? Something happened to me this past week with our daughter that prompted my thinking about this question, which I’ll be talking about in next week’s episode. It has to do with our relationship with our work AND with each other.

It’s also an example of today’s show in a sentence, of being stimulated in my thinking because of a comment my daughter made about a shared experience the two of us had with my wife Janet, and our grandson Nathan. I hope you tune in next week; I can’t wait to share it with you.

Relationship Quote of the Week

Shortly after Palm Sunday a week ago, the fire in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris started. Is construction began in 1160, and 100 years later it was finished. It survived two world wars, and as of this writing, has mostly survived the April Holy Week 2019 fire. It’s majestic spire is gone, and there is significant damage below, but it will be repaired. Art historian Liz Lev, in commenting on the fire, is quoted by Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal. It’s a great quote about our relationship with beauty. Here it is:

When the the fire came, for two days it made us let our guard down. It showed us that beauty still affects people, that they know they are custodians of it. We still need to believe in the beautiful.     ~Liz Lev


Well that’s about it for today’s episode. Remember what you were made for. You were made to experience life-giving, fulling relationships. You were made to be a custodian of the beauty found in relationships. We’re here together to learn how. See you next week. Bye for now.

Resources mentioned in today’s show

You Were Made for This episodes:

Episode 9
Episode 15
Episode 18

Wall Street Journal article – April 2019 Notre Dame Cathedral fire