I have found that many of the relationship problems I face relate in some way to incorrect or incomplete communication. I do not say what I need to say, or when I say what I am thinking I say it unkindly. When someone else speaks to me I do not hear them clearly or I assume what they mean rather than truly understanding them.
Communication is key. As John Mayer says, “Say what you need to say.”
So why do we fall short in this area so often? If we know what the problem is, why can’t we fix it?
The Core of the Matter
Ever since Adam and Eve sinned the first time we have been born flawed. We are sinners, without hope on our own. As God says in Isaiah 53:6, “We have turned—every one—to his own way.”
We mean well. When we see a problem we dig in to fix it. We read books, talk to counselors, journal, change what we say, talk more and listen harder.
Sometimes we see improvement. If we do it is usually short lived; then we return to a version of who we were all along.
We cannot make these kinds of changes on our own. We need Gospel, good news, that only Christ can give us, but we still try to “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.” We are Americans. We are self-made people, or so we think.
If we cannot effectively change ourselves, how do we change?
- Accept Christ’s solution. Christ suffered, died and rose to break the sin-curse. The sinless Son of God died for our sin and rose to break the power of sin. You must first surrender your life to him in order to break the chokehold of sin.
- Accept Christ’s love. You need to realize that God loves you just as you are, in all your faults and sin. You do not need to change to be loved.
- Accept responsibility. Confess to God and to whomever else has been affected your failure and struggle to communicate or listen well. Own your part of the problem.
- Accept help. Ask God to change you, then read the books, visit the counselor, journal, and have someone keep you accountable. The difference is that you realize God has to change you at your core in order for the change to be permanent. You are doing what you know to do, but God is doing the heart work to make your work stick.
- Rinse and repeat.
You are still a flawed human being and you will make mistakes, so you will have to do this process repeatedly. You will sin again because you are not perfect, but you can know you are loved and that God is working in you and that God will ultimately make you perfect when he returns.
We, as believers, have hope. We can truly learn to “Say what we need to say,” with God’s help.
Are you still trying to change yourself, or have you asked Christ to change your heart?