It takes time to formulate words that match the insides accurately, and we don’t have the benefit of a long history with each person we talk to, the kind of history that let’s you finish their sentences for them or gather the missing parts they leave out.
So much conversation requires us to intuit and some times we do it wrongly, listening like a science instead of like an art: your turn (pause) my turn (pause) your turn (pause) stop.
On top of that, we often say only little bits of what we mean.
When I say it takes discipline and obedience to write, I don’t mean that I have words from God that must be shared. I don’t mean that I have a gift you must receive. I mean that I have to discipline myself and obey my own preaching – that practice is important and getting over my pride and perfection is a huge part of growth, in anything.
I’m a firm believer that what hurts can be what is good. What I really mean is that I want to make myself do hard things but I often just think about them from my couch, in my yoga pants, with my coffee.
When you ask my opinion on paint colors or wall hangings, trust me, if I give you an answer, it’s a shot in the dark or a copy of something I saw on Pinterest.
What I mean when I talk about making a home is less decor, more atmosphere; less color, more texture. Partly because I fail at colors and style, partly because I actually like white space.
When I talk about hospitality, what I mean is that I love having people over but I’m not that good at it. Thank God for my husband, who is the extrovert that does all the inviting and pulls me through the button-hole of hermitsville.
When I talk about homeschool, what I mean is that I love learning with my kids and making it my job is some kind of justification for it.
What I don’t mean is that everyone should homeschool. I believe anyone who wants to, can, but that’s not the same as saying I think everyone should.
What I don’t mean when I talk about homeschool is that public schools are inherently evil and teachers, minions-of-the-state.
Other things I don’t mean when I talk about homeschool: it’s always a blast, your kids will love it, your kids will love you for your sacrifice, your home will be cozy and peaceful, your children will be little geniuses, you are guaranteed “success”, and you will have lots of extra free time because, obviously, you’re home all day.
What I mean when I say that things are good is that God is good and I know we don’t even have time to go into detail on that right now, as we brush by in the aisle, passing between kids and events and duties. But I’m not saying it flippantly.
How are you? must be our most commonly used phrase but when you ask and I answer, I want to believe that you truly want to know, and I want you to believe that things really are good.
I purposely try not to answer we’re really busy, because that’s not the most important thing.
What I mean when I ask how you are doing is are you too busy? is life frantic? will you stop for a minute and evaluate it all? Tell me you’re busy – that’s okay. But later on, will you think about why? Will you consider what makes you busy and what makes life worth it?
When I talk about my failures, what I mean is that I am in a good place for grace and no amount of self-esteem can compete with knowing my absolute worth is in Christ’s firm hands. I don’t need any building up but what He gives.
But yeah, let’s encourage one another all the more. He builds us up into His church through the gifts of the church, and being The Church means loving the church means loving each other.
We should all know that what is said is usually just the forerunner for a whole fleet of thoughts, feelings, experiences, and biases that shape our life. For the people you love, take the time to know what they really mean when they say their words.