When I was a little girl I used to play with my friends this way: “Pretend you said......,” my friend would tell me what to say, which I would obediently repeat. Then I would respond by telling her, “And then you say.......!” Once in awhile when someone would abandon the script, the other child would lose interest and start playing something else. Kids are funny, but I think we adults sometimes act much the same in our relationships.
On one hand it sounds ideal and pain free to be the puppet master in charge of dictating the script. On the other hand however, it denies people of any freedom to react authentically. I come across this from time to time with others as the receiver as well. I feel that my organic response to something is not the right answer or the one they were looking to receive. Sometimes it can be really clear to me that I’ve under delivered and that the recipient is not tracking with me.
Being on the receiving end of this completely stifles any relationship. I know for myself that I tend to avoid people when I feel that I continually fall short of their expectation or that they are imposing this limit on my freedom. Being on the receiving end of this multiple times has led me to try to be different with those I love. To not shame them for an honest response or for an opinion or desire that differs from my own.
Luckily, in our relationship with Jesus, He does not play that way. He has all power to be the ultimate puppet master but chooses not to take advantage of that power. He is the perfect example of love and grace despite us not responding to His love the way we maybe ideally could. Instead, He gives us free-will and forgiveness and knows that healthy love would have it no other way.
I recently went to Donald Miller’s Storyline conference in Chicago. The tagline of this conference is "Your Story Matters". The flip side of this: other people’s stories matter too. Would it not make a difference in our relationships if our story mattered to our peers? What if we gave great care when hearing theirs as well? The people we interact with and love would feel valued and heard if we would lay down the expectation of what they should think, say or do.
At the conference, Tripp Crosby spoke about how life is a lot like improv. The take away for me was this: the key to successful improv is being in the moment and responding to the scene authentically. Isn’t that so true in life and relationships as well? If I’m too busy in my own mind, dwelling on the fact that ‘this is not how it was supposed to happen. That’s not what you were supposed to say or do,’ I would lose out on the possibility of that moment! I would lose out on something that could have been powerfully unscripted and spontaneous. I want so much to live my own life that way.
I love this quote from author Shauna Niequist, “.....what I can do is offer myself, wholehearted and present, to walk with the people I love through the fear and the mess. That’s all any of us can do. That’s what we’re here for.”
To truly meet another person where they are and see the story from their perspective is a unique and special experience. My hope is that we would be honored when someone allows us a glimpse into their life or their thought process. It is a great tool for learning and developing our own unique, God- given stories.
Kristyn Cozad is new to our community and moved to Denver from the Washington, D.C. area this summer. She travels for work and enjoys her time off more than she probably should! She enjoys going deep in conversations with old friends, meeting new friends and exploring her new city.