Read Between the Lines
“Communication takes place not just when a message is sent, but only when it is also received, understood and acted upon.” –Dr. Tony Evans
Communication within any family dynamic can be difficult. There are personality traits, lifestyles, sensitivities, and expressions that can differ so much so, it seems impossible to get a point across. It’s vital for every family to be experts at communicating their wants and needs so that no one will live in silent expectation. Unspoken expectations are dangerous and can cause ruin within the family. Here are the three best ways to communicate within the family.
Being honest can hurt the person telling it or hearing it but it will keep our relationships healthy. Imagine the physical manifestation of the metaphor “sweeping things under the rug”, that would be an extremely dirty house. The more we avoid being honest within our families the more the enemy’s lies are believable. Truth becomes a barrier of protection around our family when we surrender to it. Telling the truth isn’t always easy because fear kicks in and we believe that a moment of discomfort is worth avoiding the truth. The consequences are so great! Going to bed angry (Ephesians 4:26), avoiding confrontation, (Matthew 18:15-17), and holding a grudge (Ephesians 4:31) can be detrimental to our families and our relationship with Christ. Honesty over tolerance is the best practice to have when communicating the truth.
We’ve all watched a show or movie that requires subtitles and those translations are the only way we can understand what we’re watching. At times we get so busy reading the subtitles that we forgot to look up at the actors expressions. Likewise, when a family member is communicating with us, we’re often looking for the manual that explains what they’re saying but, perhaps the translation of their words can be better read from their facial expressions and tone. When we try to understand what is being communicated it’s just as important to read into what their saying instead of just hearing it.
The bible tells us that “He who keeps a royal command experiences no trouble, for a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure.” Ecclesiastes 8:6. There’s significance in when a thing is to be communicated and the right timing can make or break an entire mood. It takes wisdom to understand how to convey a need within the right time. Telling your family you’ve decided not to go to college at a birthday party isn’t wise, neither is telling your family you’re getting married during a funeral. Communication is so important and to be the most effective within a family, timing is everything.
Our heart’s intent will be evident in the way we communicate and even more importantly the way we listen to each other. Listening is key. It shows us how to respond, whether to be silent or address the situation at hand will be determined by how well we listen. We must be mindful of the power of our words and the power of when we are silent, God honors our efforts to keep His divine institution whole.