Feb 13, 2009

i already know what you're going to say

Do you have people in your life who already know what you're going to say?

I don't mean people that you're close to, like your spouse or a best friend. I mean people who you feel like you're standing before, and they've already pre-judged you before the first word has been spoken. They "already know what you're going to say," even though they don't.

There's that family member who is trying to quit a habit, and you see them struggling with it. They go to reach for their addiction and see you staring at them... all you happened to do is glance over, but they assume you have an agenda. And the words blurt out from them like they were just waiting to say it.

"I already know what you're going to say."

Or that neighbor you're trying to build a friendship with... only they would rather pretend there is an imaginary fence that you're supposed to honor. Once in a while you find a genuine way to connect with them, so you roll the dice on giving it your all. Yet as "natural" as it is, you still feel like you're having to earn your spot in their lives. They see you coming across the yard, ready to have that first conversation, and their eyes roll as if they have the whole 2-dimensional conversation mapped out in their head.

"I already know what you're going to say."

Or that person you know who has blown it bad, and you see them ignoring the very real consequences of it because the version in their head is more palatable. You see their blind spots, and they see that you see their blind spots, so they don't want to see you. And if by chance they do, they let you know they're not interested in your commentary.

"I already know what you're going to say."

Then there is that pastor friend of yours. He seems like a regular guy and all, but when he's around you're "extra aware" of God. Not because the guy is perfect, but because the spiritual journey you're trying to be on seems hard at times... and there are moments when you don't live up to the things you say you want to live up to. So he enters the room, and you suddenly find yourself fixing the invisible tie around your neck... and you don't know why. He opens his mouth to speak, and you "just know" that he's going to lay some spiritual smackdown on you.

"I already know what you're going to say."

There are two sides to these situations:
  • The reactive person: Admit it - it's scary when someone is about to speak into your life. We never know if they are coming at us with an agenda or in true compassion, and even those closest to us can seem confusing. Remember that even if you think you're about to get the same speech you did last time, there may still be some truth you need to pay attention to.

    A few years back I was at a convention and a guy named Tony Campolo came up to speak. At the time he was making waves as a Christian for his outspoken love for the homosexual community. In a room full of thousands, I happened to be in the fifth row and a guy next to me stood up and huffed off when Tony took the stage. It made a small scene, as he did again when he came back at the end of the 45 minutes message (as if to say, "See, look what I did! I didn't have to listen to that guy."). I leaned over and said, "You missed out, dude." He said, "Do you know what this guy believes?" I said, "I did, but having sat and listened to him, I now understand why he believes what he believes. I'm sure you wouldn't agree with everything he said, but like I said... you missed out." The guy just looked at me with little to say.

    Again - you may not like what someone will say, and you may not agree with it. But if you listen and let it soak in, you just might see your own life from a perspective you never would have without those words. Even ideas you disagree with have a context, and understanding that context instead of writing it off can bless your life.

  • The active person: You can lose motivation to speak the truth in love when you feel like people you're trying to help are dismissive. Often people push back on us because there is something we see that they don't want to see. In such situations it's easier for them to pretend we don't "get them" or "know them" than it is for them to deal with what we do know.

    Just tonight I was counseling someone along these lines - they are trying to make headway with someone who is lying to themselves more than they are to the people around them. It's hard to hang in there, but while you can't control their denial you can control your authenticity. You'll be accused of condeming, but if you truly do love them you can see that reaction for what it is and keep pursuing them in love. One day it may create the breakthrough you're praying for, but even if it doesn't it can create a breakthrough in your own heart.

Relationships with hard people are hard, but they are worth it.

(At least I keep telling myself that. Jesus said it, and I believe Him... and I have seen the fruit of perseverance.)

But of course, I already knew I was going to say that.

I'm sure you did, too.

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