Everyday we play “Red Light, Green Light.” Of course we are not all lined up on a gym floor or a playground to play this game anymore (Even though that would be fun to watch). This game travels with us on our phones.
When someone calls, it is an invitation to play “Red Light, Green Light.” I have a choice that is clearly shining back at me from my telephone screen. I can decline the call (a red circle) or accept the call (a green circle). One choice stops the process of communication (or at least delays it) and one choice connects me to another person.
Confession: In our tent, it is challenging to truly communicate. Sure, we check in with each other on the surface of our lives and we work hard to make sure the basic needs for life are met. But we often fail to communicate with each other on a deeper level. We seem to be stuck on red light when it comes to communication that matters. Decline: We don’t have enough time. Decline: We are just too tired to care. Decline: We will talk about it tomorrow.
Don’t worry. We have been in this place before. It’s easy to get in a “red light” rut. Luckily, the Divine Coach knows when to get our attention by blowing the whistle. In big and small ways, we are reminded that we are living in shallow relationships. Communication equals connection. We go back to the starting line again willing to try a different approach.
If relationships in your tent seem to be stuck on the “red light” in communication, try a new practice to turn the “green light” on again.
- Shut the door (Or Drive Away!)–We live in a very busy world. Appointments, meetings, expectations, to-dos, activities, errands and exhaustion keep us from communicating. Being a “green light” for each other, means that we first have to spend time with each other. In our tent, we inserted our own personal “time-out” or “water-break” that puts the world on hold so we can connect to each other. It may be in the form of a date, a day trip to another town or just a slow morning together. Any form works as long as it is time to just be present with one another. When you are present and available, you can connect at a deeper place.
- Soul Talks–Ask each other, “How is it with your soul?” If you are looking for a way to truly communicate in your tent, ask a question that matters. Jesus did not ask his followers what they ate for lunch or how their meeting went. Jesus asked his followers to questions that spoke into their souls. “Who do you say that I am?” “What do you want me to do for you?” “Do you love me?” These questions connect us to each other and to God.
- God’s Word–A powerful way to communicate to each other is by meditating on scripture together. Reading a passage invites God back into the center of your lives. It also provides space for the Holy Spirit to be present. Individual Bible study is valuable. Bible study together leads to deeper connections. Choose one verse or one passage and talk about it together. Try Lectio Divina.
- Pray–Communicating with each other is a priority. Communicating with God is mandatory. Through prayer, we remember that God is not dwelling in a galaxy far, far away. God is present. When we are present with God, our worries, anxieties and weaknesses dissipate. Clarity, understanding and focus become our new lens to see ourselves and each other.
When we were children, the game “Red light, green light” only had one winner. At the end of each game, everyone was sent back to the base line. In our faith journey, there is plenty of room for all of us to be winners. Jesus made this possible.
When we play “Red Light, Green Light” in our relationships, we need to develop a helpful and healthy filter. This filter needs to know when to decline invitations that lead us away from each other and accept invitations that lead us to one another and to God. Because who can enjoy the celebration at the finish line all alone?
Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near.Hebrews 10:25-27
From our Happy Tent to Yours,
This past spring I visited a church in Mississippi. In the service, God wanted me to hear one thing…it takes a village. This simple message came from the youth pastor. He gave the announcement about the youth’s trip to the bowling alley that afternoon. But instead of simply reminding the youth, he was actually challenging the congregation…the village. He was challenging them to become a friend to the young people in the church. The church goal was to partner five adults with each young person in their church. He reminded the village of the goal and encouraged them to get started (or keep going) by going bowling that afternoon. Sounds fun!
This made me start thinking about my youthful years. Did I have five people outside my family who I would call a friend? Did I have five people who mentored me and believed in me? Did you?
These people in my life are called the unsung heroes of my life. Their names are not on any diploma, they will probably not be listed in my obituary and they probably don’t even know the impact they made on my life…but they were my heroes in many ways. They had a conversation with me that changed my life. They saw something in me that I did not see and nourished it until I did see it. They were patient. They would answer my phone call anytime during the day or night. I was always welcome in the homes. Some of them were teachers, coaches, friends, fellow church members, and pastors. They were my village. They were my unsung heroes.
This too made me start thinking and open my eyes. (This is probably why God wanted me to hear one thing that day.) Who needs me?…it’s time to go bowling. Who needs you? There are so many people around us young and old that need a village to love them and encourage them. And it may just be time for you and me to take them bowling (or to something else that sounds fun like eating ice cream).
Paula Gooder wrote a book called Everyday God: The Spirit of the Ordinary. I keep my copy on my back porch to read in the morning. It is warped from being wet and yellowed from being scorched by the sun, but it still shares treasures with me each morning. The other day I read these words:
Part of the point of God’s calling to each one of us is that we are called to be God’s unsung heroes and we will know we are succeeding, not when people begin to notice us but when they begin to notice God.
I would love to chat more, but I think I need to write some thank you notes and find some more people to add to my village…especially if bowling and ice cream are involved!