There is a place for short answers.
On an elevator telling someone what you do, for example. Or when moving through a checklist. Neither of those situations calls for essays.
But thoughtful conversations over coffee? Those call for slow unpacking of ideas. A willingness to trust that the other person may be as interested in what you have to say as you are interested in them. In a conversation, each person can ask long questions, offer long stories, explain long ideas.
I’m not talking just about reminiscing conversations, or descriptions of people conversations. Those are fine for people who like to reminisce. But sometimes you need a long conversation to explore an idea, to find out what you think and what the other person thinks. You aren’t deciding or planning or solving. You are thinking.
A friend and I recently talk for several hours this way. We didn’t solve anything or decide anything. But we understood better. And this was good.
As I think about our time together, I wonder whether it taught me anything about prayer, about simply exploring ideas with God.
What about sitting in a chair and saying, “God, what about this. Can you help me understand? Because here’s what I’m thinking.”
And then waiting. And listening. And reading the stories that I know are connected to that idea or question.
I understand that it’s hard to find time. My friend and I took eight years to get around to talking. We won’t wait eight more years. The deliberate process of discovery was too life-giving to wait again.
This weekend, finally decide to schedule a conversation with a friend. Or with God. Or both.
And ask long questions. And share long answers.
And maybe, you’ll find some understanding you’ve been longing for.