When we start conversations with remembering shared experiences it will draw us closer to people if we ask more about those experiences.
Hello everyone, welcome to episode 100, our first triple-digit episode number!
I’ve been to 8 funerals in the last year or so, 2 virtually and the rest in person. With those I was closer to, I have questions of them that will now go unanswered because I didn’t get to ask them in time.
These questions, had they been answered, would have made my relationship with these people deeper and richer. And while we can’t do anything more with people who have passed away, we can do something now with our closer relationships, before it’s too late.
So today we’re going to listen in on a conversation I recently had with a long-time friend of mine to give you an idea of how you can have a similar conversation with one of your friends before it’s too late.
You may even be surprised by the friend I chose for this conversation.
Talking to an old friend
The person you are about to hear from is the same person you hear at the beginning of each episode of this podcast. All 100 of them, as of today. I'm speaking of Carol Steward, my boss and executive producer of You Were Made for This. More than this, she has been a dear friend to both Janet and me for many years.
Our friendship started when the three of us were freshmen in college. Janet first met Carol in a theater class they were taking, and they soon became fast friends, and later became roommates in their college dorm. And because Janet and I hung around with each other, I became friends with Carol, too.
A few years after the three of us met, Carol met her husband-to-be, Terry, and the four of us have been friends ever since. Carol stood up in our wedding, Janet in theirs. So that’s the back story to today’s episode.
In planning for today, I purposely didn’t plan. I wanted our conversation to be as free-flowing as possible, so I didn’t go into it with a list of questions. There was just one really important question I wanted to ask, which you will hear about.
An example of The ORA principle of deepening relationships
After reviewing the recording of our conversation days later, I was surprised to notice how I unconsciously followed the ORA principle we’ve been considering the past few episodes. Observe – Remember – Ask. O.R.A.
Our conversation starts with Remembering, which leads to Asking, and then a bit of Observing, which leads to more Asking. See if you can pick up on it. It’s a very useful model you can use to deepen your relationships.
So let’s get into it. Carol was working out of her home the day we recorded this, so I called her while I was back in studio 1A at One Podcast Plaza.
[Our conversation plays here. I'm sorry, there is no transcript available ]
Unfortunately, we are running out of time for today. We will have to wait until next week in episode 101 to hear the only question I prepared ahead of time, and then Carol’s answer.
What I learned in talking to an old friend
For now though, here’s what I took away from my spontaneous conversation with Carol so far:
I was surprised when I asked Carol if her mother ever said anything about my mom. I didn’t realize how the unanswered questions about her still affect me. There's more I wish I knew about her.
I had not thought about it until just recently, the fact Carol’s mother and my mother knew each other, and worked together, years before both of us were born. That is an unusual point of connection between the two of us. I don’t quite know what to make of it, except that God created this connection. I bet he’s smiling over it. And then the fact Carol’s mom died on Janet’s and my wedding anniversary is another connection. Hmm.
Another thing I noticed is how what seemed like the meaningless trivia questions I asked, connected us with our shared past. The question about the name of the singing group Carol was in college, and then the yellow dress we both remembered. It reminded me how laughter is a great way to connect with friends.
Then there were the jobs she had and what she’s enjoyed about them. It showed what a positive person Carol is, which is something that continues to draw Janet and me to her after all these years. I need to be a little more like Carol myself.
One question leads to another
Our talk so far raised more questions in my mind to ask later. Good conversations do that. They’re appetizers served up for future dialog. It's what happens when we start conversations with remembering. I wonder more now about the 3-4 years Carol spent in Fargo, working with her husband Terry on that noon-day TV show. I know that could have been just the start for both of them in the TV biz. They won’t admit it, but they gave up promising careers to help Terry’s dad carry out the vision he had for a Christian radio back in the ’70s. It was a sacrifice, though they never talk about it in those terms.
Finally, there was the mention of Steve, their radio station employee who died recently. I talked with Terry about him a few weeks ago, they wrote about him in their monthly newsletter, and now Carol talked about him today. I could tell it was a deep loss for those that knew him. What a wonderful life he lived to have had such a significant impact on people.
I didn’t know him, but his was a good example of a life well-lived. I hope the same will be said about me when I'm gone.
And so we started talking about when people die at the top of today’s show. We’re now ending with the same topic today But there’s more.
For I wonder what all we’ve been talking about today means for YOU? If you would start conversations with remembering, what would that do for you?
How can you use what you’ve heard today to improve the relationships in YOUR life? Here are a few ideas:
It seems to me God puts people into our lives for very specific reasons. Reasons sometimes known only to Him. The closer we get to people, and the deeper we get to know them, the greater appreciation we develop for God’s love in blessing us with those who fill our lives with joy.
Who are the people you sense God could possibly have put in your life to bring you joy – if you only knew them better?
Finally, when your time on earth comes to an end, what will people say about you? It’s not too late to begin having a positive impact on the lives of others.
If you forget everything else, here’s the one thing I hope you remember from today’s episode
Before it’s too late, begin a conversation with people close to you, where you start with remembering shared experiences, asking questions about them, and observing what’s going on with them in the present.
I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. Just send them to me in an email to email@example.com. I may share them in a future episode unless you say otherwise. You can also share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the show notes.
I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, to both reflect and to act. So that you will find the joy God intends for you through your relationships. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
Well, that’s all for today. I look forward to connecting with you again next week when we finish my conversation with Carol, and when I get to ask the only question I prepared ahead of time. Her answer led us down a most interesting path that I’m eager to share with you. So until next week, Goodbye for now.
Related episodes you may want to check out:
093: Remembering Deepens Our Relationships
096: Meaningful Questions Create Meaningful Relationships
If you'd like to know more about Carol's other ministry, click on wwib.com. It's a great Christian radio station you can listen to online anywhere in the world.
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Great 100th podcast, John.
The connection with Both your mothers was sweet.
Anticipating your questIon for Carol Next week!
Thanks, Darlene. Carol’s response to my question is a wonderful story she shares. I’m looking forward to hearing it again.
WOW! ? Thxs John and Carol for this podcast. I was in tears by the end of your podcast.
‘You were made for this’ remark resounds so true in the field I’m in. I’m a caregiver. I ‘love’ funerals because attending them for the sake of the living relatives is the primarily reason for attending them. But also for the dear relationship I’ve had with the client. Typically I have clients for 2 years.
The last 7 years I’ve had more than 100 clients. I CAREGIVE the elderly and everyone of these relationships ends in death. I don’t always get a chance to get to everyone funeral, but I go TO everyone I can. Your podcast strengthened my desire to get to know more about my clients even though some of them I’m not able to understand THEM with their severe dementia.
What a depth of Knowlege I learn from clients in the years past in their history. I get to experience hearing their stories.
But IT’S so important to value each one of them. What a privilege to have so many friends. They become like family as I see them and their families so often. Thank you so much for having these podcasts.
Thanks for all that you shared, Mary Ellen. I was touched by what you said of your 100+ clients, “every one of these relationships ends in death.” What a caring person you are to invest in these relationships, and in the relationships you have with the families. And I so appreciated how you said these aren’t one-sided relationships, that you are benefiting from hearing the stories and sharing in the experiences of the elderly you serve. In your comments, I also read a sense of joy that comes to you from the work you do. The world needs more people like you, Mary Ellen!