My friend Jan took her normally sweet-natured dog, Duke, to the groomer this week. Duke has been mad at Jan ever since. He refuses to look at her when she comes through the door after work, withholds his usual wet, slobbery kisses, and in general gives Jan the cold shoulder. Jan misses his companionship, but she understands the situation and knows that eventually their relationship will return to normal.
A statement in an Edward Fudge GracEmail post this week caught and held my attention. Edward was discussing the fact that since God created us for relationship, He wants to commune with us and to be involved in our everyday lives. God desires both to speak to us and to be spoken to by us. Edward said, “Speaking is the nourishment of relationship.” How true that is!
Have you ever been on nonspeaking terms with a relative or friend? I know of family members who intentionally have not spoken to each other for years. Even some spouses talk to each other only when absolutely necessary and then only in the most mundane and unemotional ways, such as to remind the other one to lock the door or get milk at the store. I picture such a relationship as a wilting plant, dying from neglect.
In a grocery store one day I observed a little boy who was about five years old shopping with his mother. Apparently, the child had committed some offense, maybe begged for candy or lagged behind the cart instead of paying attention and staying with his mom. Whatever it was, the mother was “punishing” the child by refusing to speak to him. The little boy pulled at his mother’s sleeve and begged, “I’m sorry, Mommy,” he said. “Please talk to me again. Please. Please say something to me.” Tears ran down his cheeks and he sobbed loudly as he begged for a return of her nourishing attention. The mother moved silently on. My heart broke.
None of the parents I know would intentionally treat their children so harshly, but in recent years I have observed moms and dads giving rapt attention to their cell phones while their children stand nearby, asking to be heard and being told to wait. Many of us have observed couples “dining” together while both are busy texting or talking on their phones. The temptation to tune in to electronic devices while tuning out to people is great.
I am not innocent in this matter of failing to communicate. In our home office, my computer and my husband’s computer are on different sides of the room. Sometimes when both of us are using our computers at the same time, we carry on conversations with each other. The other day in just such a situation, I noticed that Dan got up from his chair and walked to the door unexpectedly. “Where are you going?” I asked. “I’m going outside,” he said. “You aren’t listening to me.” He was right. I was not listening. I had chosen instead to focus my attention upon an email, an Internet search, or even an online crossword puzzle.
Multiple distractions vie for our attention. Determine to shower the people you love with nourishing words. Listen when they talk. Look at them. Touch them. Speak life into your relationships.