Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast Episode 043 The Art of Conversation
Welcome to the Terri Hitt – Live With Eternal Perspective Podcast
Episode #043 – The Art of Conversation
Thank you for entrusting and investing your precious time with me to grow in Jesus together. I am blessed to be back with you to discuss more ways to live with eternal perspective.
Conversation. That’s my topic today. More specifically, dialogue. The ability to communicate with others, giving us the means to exchange ideas or opinions.
I enjoy talking to others; I love especially hearing their life stories. Do you? I believe many of us have more in common with one another than we think or imagine we do. Yet, I don’t feel that is reflected in the way we respond to, or act toward, others in our society today. What disappoints me most is when we don’t search for connection or look to see commonalities in those we meet. Most often, those special similarities are hidden beneath the surface like jewels under the rough sand still polishing them.
When our youngest came home from China, she had spent most of her life in isolation, did not know English, knew little Mandarin because she had not been spoken to most of her life, and due to neglect, was almost entirely deaf. We had a focused road ahead of us to teach her to socialize, yet as each day passed and our relationship with her deepened and blossomed, we knew she was a perfect fit that completed our family.
We each have a past, a chronicle of events that shape and define how we view and interact with the world. Stories define us – our personal tales of hardships, trials, heartache, joy, pain, loss, and love.
The most impactful way to recognize or respect the narrative of another is through true, authentic dialogue. Unfortunately, the culture and society of this time leaves conversation to quickly-jotted texts and emails or small blurbs on a social media screen that most often feel and sound like attacks.
When I meet someone, I usually wish for the opportunity to sit and talk to them for an extended period, sharing life tales and honestly connecting. Have most of us lost the desire to slow down and connect, to see another human for who they are?
I don’t care about what society tells me I need or should be. I honestly get confused when I hear people say they want others to be themselves. I guess that is because I am who I am and I don’t expect fakeness from others. But in reality, I can understand that when we don’t have a grounded relationship with the One who shapes our identity, we do not know who we are, so falseness prevails as we flounder in finding, and in vulnerably, as well as honestly, exposing ourselves.
The fast-paced, false society we live in has stolen the gift of discussion, and we have not yet conceived the full damage. Our children do not have the opportunity to experience life and relationships the way we did growing up. As adults, are we making time to teach them how to form authentic relationships? We must be making time to mentor our children through the way we develop those true relations ourselves.
If we examine deeper, we see that what has most hurt our society, culture, and relationships is the condition of our hearts. As we move farther away from Jesus, the selfishness of our soul is exposed. Arrogance is born from this self-absorption, we become easily deceived, and we begin making justifications for anything we desire.
Through social media, it is easy and convenient to lash out at others in ways most would not do in person years ago, and because of the current political climate driven by the media and much misinformation, many are now fueled by money, rage, hurt, and misunderstandings to begin attacks in person.
After taking actions on beliefs, many look for others to agree with the decisions, no matter what they are, then get offended and angry when others dare to disagree.
Are people truly looking to understand the viewpoint of the “opposing” thoughts from the person they are speaking to? Many times, no. The art of dialogue is fast diminishing from our culture. At this point, many people just want to be understood and agreed with.
Much of the time all this “conversation” is spoken through written forms of communication that I spoke of earlier. No one can hear the tones of the other person and we cannot see or experience compassion or understanding that may be in the heart or eyes of those involved.
I’ve been the victim of this type of communication attack and I’ve seen it happen to others. Even when you desire to speak to someone in person, if they choose not to, any hope of resolution fades.
So, how do we expect communication to improve?
It can’t and won’t, unless we decide to bring back old-fashioned heart to hearts and the ability to respect the opinion of another without taking it personally.
Even among those who profess to be believers.
What can we do to restore the art of communication?
Shift our hearts to abide in the words and thoughts of our Heavenly Father.
When we come to know God in an intimate way through Jesus, we are radically changed.
Becoming a Christian is not the end, however. It is actually when the work begins.
Until we release and commit ourselves to Jesus, we are only spouting personal beliefs and opinions.
Once we abide in Christ, we begin a lifetime journey of allowing Him to transform our heart and mind to reflect and shine His thoughts and actions.
A personal relationship with Jesus causes us to say and do things that we typically would not think of and would not have the ability to complete in our own free will.
Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
Have you seen much grace on social media?
Most people have deep-seated beliefs and do not desire to be persuaded to change. For example, I know no one is going to change my beliefs. They are rooted in what I believe God would have them to be. No one will shift that foundation, except Him, as I mature daily.
Still, I respect that others have differing views. I respect that they also have a right to believe what they desire. I’m interested in why they believe as they do, because I like to hear their life story. Quite often, it shows me where there heart is and also exposes new ways I need to move mine more in alignment with Jesus.
My desire is that we all have hearts in sync with where He would have us to be, but God gives free will to each of us. People who are seeking to abide in Him and grow daily will come into new viewpoints as they mature. Those who reject Christ will allow a greater chasm to divide them from godly viewpoints and actions. Instead of judgement, we must pray for godly discernment to lead us and form our reactions to others. If the person we are interacting with is not in the place to react in the same manner, we can shake the dust from our feet and nicely move on. God does not expect us to allow attacks to torment us. Remember to pray for the person or people and let God deal with them.
The only way to do that is to know Jesus because we are involved in a personal and maturing walk with Him. When we are rooted in and through Him, and we spend time in His word regularly, also studying and applying the wisdom God extends to us through it, we are transformed. Our thoughts become His. His thoughts drive our actions, and then we can better discern what is good and acceptable to Him.
Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
I am deeply saddened by the viewpoints and arguments I have seen on social media in the last several months. I am weary. I am grieving what I thought I knew about others. Although it sounds as if I am judging others. I assure you, I know my own heart. Judgement is not my job. Only God can judge. My Heavenly Father does, however, allow me the ability through knowing Him and intentionally growing in Him daily, to use discernment.
Hebrews 4:12-13 says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”
I have so much to learn to ever be the person I know the Lord created me to be, but I have matured much in Him and I can recognize when things grieve His heart, because they now grieve mine, as well.
What I am wholly interested in is whether my beliefs and actions are in alignment with scripture. If you truly follow Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I pray that you believe the same for yourself.
Hebrews 5:12-14 says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
What does this passage mean? Believers and followers of Jesus should be actively seeking to know Him, and be transformed to resemble Him. The word Christian means “little Christ.” How we let Him down daily. We are so far from where He desires us to be, yet loves us where we are. We have lost that ability in our society. We must look to the example of Jesus to love others where they are, yet not condone their sin. Just as we cannot make excuses for the sin we carry, but seek to be transformed and moved out of the sin through Jesus. I believe the difficulties arise because we are imperfect humans and even in the best of our attempts, we have room for error and those we interact with who do not know Jesus intimately through a personal relationship, simply do not understand our attempts and mistake them as judgement. We must continue to look Up and seek truth and direction from the Lord and allow Him to flow His responses into and out of us.
When we do not advance in our maturity as we should, however, we are not able to advance to solid food, but remain ingesting milk, as a baby. If we never progress beyond an elementary relationship with Jesus, how can we discern what He desires? How are we to expect to understand and view the world as He does? How are our opinions and judgements to be trusted? Through our deep and purposeful progression of our personal relationship with Jesus, we gain skill in applying His principles to all areas of life. What a stark difference they are from what we would exercise on our own. My own life included.
James 3:13 says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.”
Our thoughts affect our beliefs, which fuel our actions. As we have seen by the looting and other examples of crime and misconduct this year. Or with the anger, animosity, and fabrications exhibited on social media.
2 Corinthians 2:14 says, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”
The more time we spend with Jesus, we begin to shine in the same way that He does. We begin to emit the scent of our Lord, either attracting others to Him or repelling, depending on where their relationship and loyalties stand.
As believers, it should be our goal to know Jesus, to recognize and understand God’s word, to carry the same mindset as Jesus so that we cannot help but shine Him in our thoughts, words, and actions. In our attitude and conversations. Those in our presence should have no question that we carry the wisdom of God in our daily life. We do not want to attract others to ourselves, but to the Lord, so that they will also rest in His peace, abide in His love, and shine His wisdom and grace for others. So that they will follow Him and His desires and commands.
2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
Doesn’t this make you want to shout, “Hallelujah!”
Consider this passage from Exodus 34:29, which says, “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.”
This verse is so beautiful it brings me to tears. The experience Moses had with God transformed him. He came away shining the light of our Heavenly Father.
How can we look like Moses, with face and life aglow from the living God shining upon our appearance and heart?
1 Peter 2:12 says, “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”
One day each of us will stand in front of God. Our Heavenly Father sees what we do and desires to guide us in the ways that are pure. He deeply loves each one of us. Galatians 6:7 reminds us, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”
We reap what we sow. Oh, how I have learned this the hard way at various points in my life. Have you? God’s word always proves true.
The decisions we make must be in alignment with God. There is only one way to know if they are. Each day must bring us closer to Him. We intimately recognize the One we are close to. We must value the things God values in this life. We must make decisions based on God’s guidance and wisdom, always going back to His word. We must be humble enough to seek Him and follow Him, humbly bowing to His whispers and commands, and seeking forgiveness when we sin. Sometimes the hardest sins are the ones we never knew we were making because we lived in ignorance instead of pursuing God as we should have. God is always waiting to forgive us when we repent, and His mercies and grace are ever-lasting.
How do we move on with the gift of communication, especially through electronic form? We must remember that adversity should not rip us apart.
Hardships and miscommunication should push us closer to Jesus and cause us to rest securely in His arms as He carries and provides for us.
What if we, as a group believers (and individuals) decide to use adversity, even that experienced through communication, in new ways in our personal life and through social media?
1. Decide that difficulties will be used to progress the gospel. Not that we need to share every personal piece of our life, but use the attitude with which we deal with life and hardships, the disagreements we may feel because of differing opinions, to fuel us to focus on how Jesus would have us prove He is within us. Our attitude and words to others show whether we allow Him to work within us. We don’t have to keep talking to try to persuade someone else to understand our viewpoint. We need to remember that people do not and will not ever agree on every point, at least not this side of heaven.
2. Decide to use adversity to purify our motives. When we feel pain or hurt from what someone says to us in person or on social media, we can choose to release it to God or lash out as if we don’t know Christ. What if we decide to allow others their opinion and stop always trying to get others to understand us or agree with us? There is nothing wrong with respectfully expressing our opinions, especially when they are in alignment with Jesus, but none of us will ever receive agreement from all people, including other believers because we are all in different phases of our Christian walk. In fact, often the closer we get to Jesus, the more opposition we will receive from some people, just as Jesus experienced.
3. Decide that difficulties provide opportunities to witness. Especially through the way we handle opposition. People notice our responses more when times are tough. Dealing with difficulties also thrusts us deeper into the arms of God, when we let them. Testimonies are birthed or grown from these times.
4. Decide to allow adversity to mature our faith and reliance on Jesus. We may feel hurt and misunderstood by others, and our opinion or belief may be correct, (yet are being persecuted unfairly), but we can rest assured that Jesus understands us like no one else ever will. He was scorned and hated, misunderstood and ridiculed. He is available to comfort and guide us.
5. Decide that trouble proves the character of our friendships. Difficulties can deepen friendships or destroy them, depending on where and how hearts are directed. Sometimes we need our eyes opened that a person is not the right choice in our life any longer. Other times, we develop stronger ties with friends or relatives through the trials.
6. Decide that complications and obstacles allow us to see life and eternity through God’s eyes. Each day should thrust us closer to viewing life moments as God sees them. We will never have the complete understanding God carries in His infinite wisdom. He is God! We know, however, that everything we do has eternal consequences. Our actions and words should drive us to desire that others would know Him and be influenced through what they see in us. We will not be perfect, but can be perfected as we mature our relationship with Jesus with our eternal mindset daily.
God can change our thoughts, words, and actions in a holy, miraculous, and beautiful way.
Father God, we need you more than we can conceive. Thank you for Your infinite wisdom and for allowing us this life to know and grow in You. Thank you for the opportunity to know you and be saved through Your astounding gift of Jesus. May we cling to You more and more each moment and truly live in ways that reflect You and attract others to You. Help us to navigate the rocky times our country is traveling, and not be dismayed by this temporary world. Enable us to communicate in ways that honor You. May our journey please You as we move more and more into alignment with Your purposes for us, especially in our thoughts, words, and actions. In Your mighty and loving name we pray. Amen.
I deeply desire to allow God to cultivate a strong community of women through the work He has given me. I pray you will be inspired and equipped to live with an eternal perspective and influenced to raise children with purpose for, and identity in, Jesus.
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