Words are a sensitive issue for me. I’ve been accused by some at being ‘good’ with them, and therefore have become a master of manipulation with them. So, in part… for the better part of the past year and a half or so, I’ve removed myself from a public forum to not be able to communicate words as a teacher. I, more than anyone, don’t want to be a master manipulator, particularly when it comes to expressing what is really going on in my heart.
Rather, my conversations and even ‘teaching’ has been done on a very small scale, with a tight knit group of people who were with me through a difficult time of transition and healing. Now that there is some distance between the time when I stepped down from a public ministry and now… I’ve unfolded a few nuggets for thought concerning communication… and words in general.
First: Many who would have called me a ‘master manipulator’ when I did speak simply wanted me to shut up. Whether it was that I am able to challenge ideologies that simply require a submissive obedience, rather than relational intimacy… or the dealing with people leaning towards narcissism… some people just don’t want to hear what you have to say because they’d rather have you right where they want you.
Second: Better communication skills and tools do not always lead to better relationships. I’d say that people are writing more today than at any time in history. The average facebook user should be able to compile the last few years of status updates and have a word count that would at least qualify as a small novel. Despite all of this writing taking place, and the communication of ideas through words is being transmitted consistently… it’s a far stretch to say that lives are improved by it all. There is very little reconciliation that takes place in such environments, despite the high volume of nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc… being strung together.
Third: Talk to a counselor who has been witness to a party of two sitting before them where one person finally finds their voice in an emotionally/mentally abusive relationship. The abuser, while saying that they always ‘wanted to know’ what was happening on the inside of the ‘abusee’, all of the sudden doesn’t really care to hear about the pain they’ve caused in their victims life. As in the first point… it was better when words weren’t shared at all.
Words will be experienced as gifts when communication leads to communion.
Words of communion have a nature and a purpose.
Words of communion carry a bit of risk because you are going to reveal a little about who you are.
You are going to learn about me when I share my words with you. You are going to have the opportunity to take a good look at me when I share, and measure out whether or not you want to know me more. If you are willing to listen, and I am willing to tell you the truth, then we are on the verge of something marvelous. New things can happen.
Salvation can happen.
Love can happen.
This is communion through words.
When I speak to you from the center of my being, I am less interested in defining who I am… but rather, inviting you into the mystery of who I am. I am ambiguous at best… always open to interpretation, because there is always another layer of the depth of my shame and dignity to go into. Every once in a while, we get a glimpse of my core… my heart… but most of the time it seems like we are plunging deeper into something that we will never truly figure out. There is mystery to it, and I’m ok with that.
I’m willing to do the same for you.
That is communication as communion. The journey of words that takes us deep into the mystery of each other.
In the church, we tend to think of communion when we take the Eucharistic elements. The bread and the wine. But, even in that setting… the words we have been given by Jesus are: “this is my body, this is my blood.” At a surface level, we can imagine that he was talking about what happened during the crucifixion. However, as we ‘enter into communion’ through the Lord’s Supper… we discover a revelation of what Jesus meant that will stagger our imagination.
To simply define the Lord’s Supper as a functional element of a church service is equal robbing each other of a true knowing that takes place when we open up ourselves to each other with words.
‘This is who I am’ is not a defining statement… but rather an invitation to a journey of knowledge… of experiencing another person.
Some folks won’t like what they hear, and either dismiss you or attempt silence you with some sort of control.
A few people, however will draw close to you… and the intertwining of lives will lead to communication, communion, and community.