Some people think counselors must have it all together: Perfectly healthy relationships and always the right words to say at just the right time. Friends, do not be deceived.
Last week I grabbed coffee with a new acquaintance. As I sat across from her, I understood the reason for her tears.
Both slamming into her at the same time. Both leaving her wishing for God to be near, for him to speak, for him to provide.
I listened, I validated, I expressed empathy. Then, instead of delving deeper, I did exactly what I hate! I did the thing I was so emphatically warned against in my training.
I rushed in to fix it.
I longed to offer something of worth, but I felt inadequate. My insecurity won out. Instead of being the aroma of Christ, I tried to be the Savior himself. Instead of sitting with a fellow sister in her pain, I scurried to patch things up and save the day.
Larry Crabb calls this phenomenon SelfTalk, primarily because at the end of the day, it’s more about me than you. SelfTalk is more about quelching my discomfort than deepening another’s desire for God.
In his book, Soul Talk, Crabb articulates a desire for something better. He asks, “How can conversations between followers of Jesus become a stage on which the supernatural power of God is unmistakably displayed, where souls come alive, where life is enjoyed, where love is released and souls connect?” (Crabb, 2003, p. 26).
That something better, you may have guessed, he coins Soul Talk, which involves thinking beneath what is in front of us and looking for the battle going on within the soul of another. It is only possible by the presence of the Holy Spirit and a steadfast resistance to the pulsating urge to run, help, or refer. Soul Talk requires a deeply authentic encounter with another that overflows from communion with the Trinity and waits for the Spirit to lead.
“Most people go through their entire life never speaking words to another human being that come out of what is deepest within them, and most people never hear words that reach all the way into that deep place we call the soul.” says Crabb.
If you are dissatisfied with chatting, arguing, maneuvering, and missing those most important to you in conversation most of the time, don’t follow my example! When you are afforded the opportunity to connect with another in a meaningful way, resist the urge to run, resist the urge to help, and resist the urge to refer the tough situation to someone else. Dig your heels in, be honest about what’s happening within you in that moment, and follow the Spirit’s lead.
Crabb, Larry (2003). Soul Talk: The language God longs for us to speak. Brentwood, TN: Integrity Publishers.