I sat there….amazed.
It was my first house meeting.
I was 29 yrs old.
We had moved to New Jersey to enable me to pursue a dream.
Return to college…. take some courses in counseling.
A local church had offered to help us out with housing.
They had an ongoing outreach to various groups…
Vietnamese boat people.
Missionaries on furlough.
Single young people wanting to deepen their relationship with God.
(Yea, he really exists – I talked to him this morning.
Young men trying to reclaim their lives/ just coming off the violent streets of Paterson …
And now…our family. Recent transplants from the Midwest.
We had two little girls in tow…
And now that we were here, I ( at least) was expected to participate in the “house meeting”.
I had no idea what to expect.
15 to 20 of us were sitting around the conference room.
The tone was informal , relaxed yet moved @ a steady clip.
All of us had busy lives and this was not a time to just socialize.
“Was there anything anyone needed to talk about?”
Parking…parking had become an issue.
When Debbie came home from the grocery store with a trunk full of groceries, she was not able to get anywhere close to the apartment..Wondering if there could be a way to keep that front spot open for those sort of things?
Use of the kitchen…
There were 3 different families sharing 1 commercial kitchen. We each had our own living quarters, but shared a common kitchen area. Different meal times, different menu’s.. all three of our young families had children…
We lived in that setting for about a year before moving to our own home.
The house meetings were only once a month as I remember them, but made an impact on me that exists to this day.
I experienced first hand the freedom of addressing issues with the people in my life instead of walking around on egg shells .
I did not see this sort of communication role modeled growing up.
I did begin to implement it in our home from that point on especially as the kids got older.
“Kathy took my good shirt and got it a stain on it….”
“Angie won’t share the remote on the TV…”
“John comes into my room all the time without out permission and starts bothering me when I’m trying to get a nap”….
“but she shouldn’t be taking a nap @ that time…”
You get the idea…
Once I tasted the freedom of genuine communication, it came to the job site with me.
Not to mention any names, but some of the people in my work circle, suck when it comes to communication.
They will take things without permission, promise to be somewhere @ a certain time but have no intention of actually following through…
Give me awkward messages to give to the customer..
Recently my cell phone rang while I was on the job….
“Doug, could you tell so and so we had to pull out but promise to be back in a week?”
my response…”Just a second..you can tell him yourself, he’s standing right here
Yea, it doesn’t win me any brownie points by refusing to play by the old rules of no communicating/ or being a door mat but that’s OK
I would rather tell you the truth up front, I can’t make it when you’re asking me to rather than lie, get my foot in the door and have you upset with me for not showing up.
Mrs DM and I work at keeping this level of straight forward communication alive in our relationship….
It is not automatic.
And we don’t do it perfectly I’m sure.
She’s a little slower to bring stuff up…hates conflict even more than I
Over the years, I can’t think of any volatile subject that hasn’t been discussed/ some of them multiple times.
Sex, money, parenting.. you know..the stuff every couple has to sort through
We ‘ve probably had the “sex” conversation 50 times in the 30 plus years of marriage.
Sex is like fire. It is a gift, but it can also cause a lot damage and pain.
Money. Money = control.
Really the issue isn’t money.
There are a half a dozen other issues under the surface that are the real issues if you’re having a conflict about money
personal space, trust, greed, fear, materialism, etc. those are the real issues.
I told someone yesterday, we haven’t been able to do things financially for our kids as much as I wished…But from where I sit, all of them prefer to address issues in their personal lives rather than play “let’s pretend”, and to me that is priceless.
Thanks for reading along ! DM