Think about the person you most love to talk with. Think about one of your conversations. Think about the range of topics. Think about the give and take, the pauses, the sense of presence.
Got that picture?
How many things did you ask for? How many things did you ask that person to do? What percentage of the sentences started with “would you please?”
Now, think about all your conversations with that person, across all the years. In that time, how many of the sentences in your conversations were requests for action? Of those, how many of the actions were getting together again. Of the requests that were actually requests for something, how many of them were demands? Did the requests determine the nature of the relationship or did the relationship provide the context for the requests?
If the conversations were with a mentor kind of person, how comfortable were you with letting the other person talk? How willing were you to ask a question and then wait, listening, reflecting, assuming that they knew what they were talking about? (By the way, what’s the person’s name? Just wanting to be sure you are being specific.)
What’s the point? Some of us were talking about prayer the other day. We talked about the often-mentioned notion that God always answers prayer: sometimes yes, sometimes no, sometimes wait. I said when Nancy and I are talking and walking, if the only things we said to each other were yes, no or wait, we’d have a crappy marriage. The richness of our relationship comes from all the conversation that isn’t requests or demands. We listen, we speak, we respond more than answer, we comment more than ask.
And we are still learning about each other, thirty-one years in.