Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The "Talk"

Do you ever dread having a conversation with someone? Sometimes it feels like my entire day is spent having "a talk" with this person or that person. Usually it entails asking hard questions or facing difficult facts and making unpleasant decisions. And I dread them. I mean DREAD them. I usually have a long list of people on my desk each day that I need to "talk" to, and I procrastinate as long as possible.

Most people underestimate the amount of stress that goes into that 5 minute "talk." I mean, I'm not the kind of person who can just wing it or fly by the seat of my pants. So when I get up in the morning, I rehearse it in the shower. I practice various scenarios of how the conversation will go while I eat breakfast. In morning devotions, I spend time agonizing with God over why I can't avoid it. I ask the staff at the office for various strategies of how to approach it. And all morning I wait for the opportune moment to call that person in for "a talk." After a lot of sighing and a few jumping jacks to get pumped up at last I sit down and do it. Now before you start thinking I'm psycho or something, let me tell you how some of my "talks" have ended. I have had everything from screaming and shouting to grown men sobbing at my desk to people storming out, slamming doors, and one even packed his bags and got on a plane the very same day. So I have reason to be nervous. Some people just don't take bad news or confrontation well at all. Confronting people or challenging people or bringing bad news is an art form - an elaborate, well-timed collaboration of truth, gentleness, and the right words.

And if you think it's difficult to confront people or have difficult discussions in English, try it with translation. When suddenly the student starts sobbing and screaming in words I don't understand, I have to stand there patiently, trying to be calm for 2 long suspenseful minutes, while pondering all my possible responses (or maybe just jumping out the window) till at last the translator explains that they're actually upset about something entirely different.

But sometimes, just sometimes, God surprises me when instead of me having to "talk" with a person, he puts the same answer in their heart. And they come to tell me about how God has led them to the same difficult decision as me and has somehow given them peace. And oh those days...those are the best. It's like I can almost hear God's reassuring voice inside my head saying, "Dont worry, Em. I've got this one." And thats the best kind of "talk" of all.

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