Last Sunday, I had a good, long, and honest conversation with my longtime friend Jo Ann. We’ve known each other probably for the last seven or eight years. We met at our Church, Word Community Church, and we’ve gotten pretty close over the last couple of years. Whenever we get the chance, we get into these deep and honest conversations about each other lives.
This particular conversation was different than most that I had recently because of the person. Jo Ann and I basically grew up in Church. You could say that we were molded in our most important years as teenagers and up until now as we take on the real world in the confines of being in a Born Again / Protestant Church. I’m not going into the nitty gritty of Christianity but we believe that there ought to be a responsibility and a call as Christians. People used to ask me what’s the difference between a Catholic and Born Again Christian and I’m not getting into that right now. What I’m basically trying to say is that my friend and I are trying to live a certain way as being Christians.
To be honest being a Christian has been put on the back burner for the 3 to 4 years of my life. I remember back in college when I was so fired up about Christ and even after college I got baptized and just tried to reach out to people. I’m not sure what happened in the last couple of years but I sadly changed. I let the struggles of life get to me and I regretfully didn’t impact people the way I should had. So meeting a friend who has known me and has seen me grow as a person was awesome. We had a splendid time sharing each other’s lives and I thought a lot about what made the conversation so uniquely powerful and meaningful.
I used to think honesty was so easy to use with my life or with the lives of others then I realized that because of the many things that people go through, it’s hard to be totally honest with the people around you. You can have close friends or even a close family but we don’t share everything to them.
I’m not saying that in order to have a good conversation you have to completely let out all your secrets. What I’m saying is that it’s important to have someone you can be completely honest with. Whatever you’re going through, you’re not getting passed it if you keep it yourself. I learned that the hard way, trust me.
Our conversation was all about honesty. We talked about our faults, regrets if there are any, the things that can hurt us, and the like. When you can talk to someone so freely and openly about anything the burden you’re carrying is just lifted off. At the same time it puts concern on another person other than yourself. When you have you have a problem all you can think about is you and only you but when you talk to other people who’s going through something also, your heart just softens up and lets you care for someone other than yourself.
In most people, their initial problem or the problem on the surface might not be the real problem at all. I remember my Counseling class back in college when our teacher taught us to break the walls that people put up and go for the root of the problem and not the one on the surface. Giving advice may be helpful but sometimes you might merely be treating the external scenario and not the one underneath. Hopefully through honesty you can save the trouble of having your friend go through your walls and just tell them how you feel straight out if you can.
2. No Judging
I don’t know about you but sometimes when I talk to other people I usually leave one part out. There’s always this fear that when I tell what I’m really feeling, the other person might judge me. It’s linked to the concept of honesty that I mentioned earlier. We might not tell the “real” problem in the fear that another person might judge us.
On the flipside, I also am capable of judging others. I don’t know if it’s my psychology background but I can probably break down most people. I’m not talking about psychoanalyzing a person in detail but just to categorize them in what kind of person they are. It’s funny how I remember my old officemates asking me to analyze them after they learned I graduated with a degree in psychology. I didn’t really think I could psychoanalyze anyone but I did the best I could and probably 3 out of 5 times I’d be right about someone. What I did was probably wrong most of the time because it’s not nice to categorize someone. In this day and age where people want to get ahead, it’s really wrong to look down on someone.
So you can be judged by others at the same time you can judge others. It takes a great deal of friendship to not go beyond the line but still give advice and still listen as a friend.
It’s always hard to find a person you can trust. I know this is true for me. I always feel that when I open up, I let my guard down and have that person have that edge on me. It’s like I have a secret identity that I have to keep putting up and you have to find someone who won’t let out your secret.
Trusting someone isn’t just about being open or honest about someone but I believe it’s about having that other person accept you no matter what. It doesn’t matter if this is a big secret or a troubled hurt or whatever circumstance; you can trust this person and still be yourself. I mean, you can be honest to someone and not be judged, but it’s a whole other level to know that you can have someone you can trust. We all want to be secure with who we are as a person so having another individual who trusts and loves us gives us that type of security.
It was really awesome to really reconnect with Jo Ann. Don’t get me wrong, even though Jo and I consider ourselves Christians, we are also sinners and are capable of trial just like everybody else. I guess that’s what makes this conversation different; as we both go through this life we try to be as righteous as we can be. Also in the end, it’s nice to know someone is praying for you. There’ this assurance or confidence that someones is praying to the God of the universe on your behalf.
So what makes a good conversation? I wrote these qualities not just because I’m looking for these in conversations in other people but also I want to be a person who has these when I share my life with others. I want to be an honest and trustworthy person who doesn’t judge others.