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Monday, December 21, 2015

Connect wire A to wire B

As with each "campaign season", the airways begin to fill up with men and women spouting all manner of campaign promises, hoping those hearing their words will somehow "trust them" to bring about whatever it is they are promising should they win the election.  It is hard to nail jello to a wall, though.  Some of the stuff I hear asked and the way they answer the questions is kind of like nailing jello to a wall. They indicate they have a brilliant idea about how to fix this problem or that, but in very general terms - there isn't a whole lot of substance to what they share.  I have found the best way to pick a candidate for office isn't so much in how educated they are, or even how sophisticated their answers might be, but to listen between the words to see if I can actually hear their heart.  It is often revealed in what they say, as much as in what they don't say!  The same is true in our own lives - sometimes what we say is not as important as what we don't say. 

The words of the godless ruin those close to them, but through insight the right-living are spared. When prosperity comes to those who do right, the whole city celebrates; but when the wicked get their just punishment, there is joyous cheering. A city thrives through the blessing of those living right, but the words of a wrongdoer will bring it to ruin. (Proverbs 11:9-11 VOICE)

This idea of "right-living" conveyed in these verses is one which comes through in what may be left unsaid, but also in the blessing words can bring when used to comfort, cheer, or bring solution into another's life.  Words have powerful capacity to either bring to ruin, or build up in ways nothing else can quite "outdo".  I recently saw a media feed about a special education teacher who starts each day of class by calling each of his students to the front of the class where he is sitting.  In just a few sentences, he speaks positive things into their lives, then moves on to the next student.  He may tell them he can always find delight in their smile, or he loves how they laugh in delight when they have created something in class.  Each student does "better" in their day all because of the words of encouragement he gives.  Why is that?  I think it is because he has learned it is in what often goes "unsaid" in the lives of these special needs kids that they need to hear the most.  You see, they probably hear enough of the "don't do that", "sit still in your chair", and "you are getting yourself dirty by doing that" each day.  What he has identified is the need every person has to hear the blessing that often remains unspoken!

We can all be guilty of giving a "campaign speech" on occasion - those times when we say what we think someone wants to hear even if we don't have much heart behind the message.  The issue is one of being genuine in our responses. We don't convey meaning until their is a genuineness of heart in the message shared.  I recently saw some photo posts of a couple of friends with some of family members at a family gathering.  They smiled in each photo, but I observed something - in some photos, it looked much closer to genuine than in others.  It wasn't the lighting, nor was it the photographer's perspective in taking the photo.  Photos often capture the sentiment of the heart, don't they?  I wonder if our words capture the sentiment of our heart equally as well?

I have learned to look deeper than the words, or beyond the smiles.  Why?  The heart isn't always captured in the words, nor is it evident in the smiles we hide behind so often.  To really begin to connect with those around you, you have to become "skilled" in uncovering the heart of the individuals you are with.  It isn't easy at first, but as you begin to "not judge a book by its cover", you become more and more adept at "reading" another's heart - maybe in what is left unsaid, or in the emotion missing in the moment.  The reason we may not always want to trust what is being said is that we ALL have become quite skilled at saying what others want to hear, and hiding behind our masks of "happiness" when deep down we are thinking something quite different or feeling quite detached from the emotional connection of the moment at hand.

The heart is buried deep - we have to uncover it if we are to become a blessing in the lives of those we care so much about. It may not be the quickest thing to learn, but that heart connection is what will fuse a relationship together in ways which makes bonds unbreakable, even in the toughest of times.  If we are content to trust what is on the surface, we will never speak life into the core of another's being - the very thing they are longing so much the hear.  I think the special education teacher may have hit the nail on the head in his approach to his students.  His connection with the kids wasn't going to come by pointing out where they didn't measure up, but in showing them ways they were a blessing in his life.  We may not always connect with the other person at first blush, but when we begin to find ways to uncover their heart, while being transparent with ours along the way, we will grow deeply connected in the course of time.  

Connection is made - not delivered.  It takes connecting two wires together to allow energy to flow through the outlet in our homes.  It isn't just any two wires which can be connected to give this infusion of energy, though.  One must be connected to the source of power - the other draws that power from the source through the connection which is made.  We can become a conduit of "infused energy" within relationships - but to do so, we must make the connection. Just sayin!