Friday, July 21, 2017

Meaningful Conversations

After these past few weeks of constant meetups, I found myself craving deeper and more meaningful conversations. I get to have these every once in a while with J, but the problem is that he's not a big talker. It takes a lot of energy for me to tease out something more than a few sentences out of that mysterious mind of his.

When I say "deeper and more meaningful", I don't mean to downplay the importance of catching up. Sharing with each other the realities and going-ons in each other's life. But at some point, I do want to discuss topics less "anchoring" in nature. For example, "do you think mankind is really moving forwards or backwards?" or "is there are point to everything you're doing in life right now?"

I suppose to some people, such topics are neither deep nor meaningful. But they are to me, because these questions drive answers that lay the foundation for everything we do in life.

I want to know the essence of you- the whys behind what you do. The thought processes that simmer beneath the facade of how you live life or even what you wear.

But as the years grow and my social circles widen and recede, I've come to find that most people aren't good or even average conversationalists. And before I come across as being judgmental, the way I've found this out is mostly because of my own journey to become a better conversationalist.

I've since discovered that I am not a great listener. I let words fall on my ears, but I did not bother to clarify or mirror what people said before quickly forming conclusions in my mind, then responding to those (usually inaccurate) conclusions. Such listening habits led to many misunderstandings. And those misunderstandings are the basis of many a failed conversation.

In order for someone to properly reply to what I'm saying, they need to first understand exactly what I'm saying. That is a tall order for most of us today with short attention spans. I personally could take up to fifteen minutes to properly communicate a single point that I'm trying to get across. If someone came to a conclusion before I even reached the culmination of my point, it would be an opportunity for misinterpretation and unhappiness at being misunderstood on my part.

Also, the way in which we have conversations nowadays swing between two extremes- one, of not saying what you really want to say in order to avoid disagreement (because conflict avoidant types tend to feel that disagreement is the end of the world), thereby causing even more misunderstandings. The other extreme would be to speak too quickly and decisively without first ruminating over what you are saying.

I know very few people in my life with whom I can have a life-giving conversation with. The kind of conversation that you walk away from feeling all the better for it. It makes me sad that this is the case and I also wonder if I can be that kind of conversationalist with and for someone else.

Monday, July 03, 2017

The Joy Of Being Used

At the end of a rather long week, we were finally in bed before midnight for once. But alas, our plans to sleep early were usurped by a most terrible noise from the other side of our bedroom walls-- Yelling, screaming, punching, a child crying, furniture being thrown around and broken...

J was already asleep (within seconds of his head hitting the pillow no less) but I could hear L stirring in reaction to the loud bangs and my heart was breaking at the realization that our neighbors were having a violent domestic.

I poked J awake and we quietly adjourned to the kitchen, feeling sorry, sad, appalled and afraid all at once. We looked into each other's faces and knew we needed to pray for that family. So we stood there and prayed. We asked God from the bottom of our hearts to send His spirit of Peace into that household, to calm them with His mighty hand. God knows, we've been down that road before and it's such a dark place to be.

God truly works in mysterious ways. I know that had J and I not been through this ourselves, we would not have the same level of empathy and compassion for our neighbors as we now do. I probably would have called the police and gotten mad at them for waking us and our baby up. But I did not; not because I didn't want to, but because I knew that calling the police may not help them much in the moment.

I knocked on their door as the fighting grew worse and we heard the lady shouting about having bloodied hands and her daughter crying. She came to the door and I quietly led her back to my house. I sat her on my couch and poured her a glass of water.

It's so ironic that just two weeks ago, I had made her acquaintance by shouting at her through the kitchen window: "Were you the one who threw all those old clothes into the rubbish chute, thereby jamming up the entire thing? I can't open my chute door!" Needless to say, she denied the allegation, haughtily exclaiming that even though she's a Chinese immigrant, her Singaporean husband had told her where the appropriate place was to throw bulk refuse. 

I let all the bitterness in her voice wash away. Someone, or many people must have played the "China card" against her many times before.

But last night, we made a new connection and she told me that she appreciated our help. I went to bed that night rejoicing in all that wonderful and mysterious ways God worked to bring us together. After our conversation, I realized that I was in a great position to empathize with and listen to her. I also realized that our move to the US was delayed for a reason. It gave me such joy then to know that God is very active in our lives and using us in every possible imaginable way, at our own individual capacities. It felt wonderful to be used by the one God on high who sees all and knows all.

It's strange to note, but even though I slept at 2am, I felt more refreshed than ever.