I haven’t posted about what I’m currently reading since February….2017.* And unfortunately, if you’re hoping for an update, that isn’t what I’m giving today.**
*Shameful, I know.
**However, now that I’ve noticed this absence, and certainly am not currently still reading the books from last year’s post, I will right this wrong promptly.
I read a book somewhere between my first currently reading post and the second* which I never mentioned here and now my conscience will not rest until I do. It’s one of those books too good not to share with others, especially when far too many people in this world need it.
*Yes, shocker, there have only been two posts of this nature.
Before I tell you about the book, there’s something else I need to confess. I like to keep the attitude of this blog a healthy balance between life is beautiful positivity and Jersey sarcasm, so though I may occasionally harp on some things which might be considered heavy material for a lighthearted lifestyle blog, my overall attitude towards most heart-on-the-sleeve kind of things is get-over-it-and-move-on.*
*About as Jersey as it gets.
That said, there is one subject I haven’t shared on, probably because it is packed with heart-on-the-sleeve vulnerability. My brother, Joel, and my sister-in-law, Mallory are moving to Rome this week to serve as missionaries for a minimum of three years. We had their send off party a week ago and I was asked to share a few words.
This, friends, I did not want to do. I am a writer; I am not a speaker. I start to speak and suddenly I forget basic English and end up communicating through a lot of connecting words and the reuse of simple phrases. In spite of this, there was something within me which God knew needed to be said.*
*I promise, this all leads back to the book I’m going to share with you which can change your life.
Here’s what I shared (because, of course, I wrote every word down to save myself the embarrassment of getting up there and finding I no longer had the ability to speak):
When Joel and Mallory first began raising money for their mission to Rome two years ago, my hope was that they would reach 100% funding immediately—so they would be gone from my life. Because, at that time, our relationship was nonexistent; our communication was a string of one-word answers and limited eye contact, all derived from years of refusing to mend a broken relationship.
We had allowed ourselves to get comfortable with a sibling relationship which was anything but Christian. We’d given up on having the difficult conversations to get to the root of our problems and had allowed our egos, our pride, and our differences to get in the way.
January of 2017, God healed what had seemed irreparable. For myself, it took meditating on God’s mercy, the mercy He has had on me, to realize I’d been taking the easy way out and hoarding His mercy, instead of sharing it.
God is still working on our family, He is still changing our family, and I feel their movement to Rome is one piece of a bigger picture which we cannot see right now.
So today, January 2018, I want Joel and Mallory to go to Rome, but not for the same reasons. I want them to go because I know God is going to use them in this mission and He is going to impact not only the lives of others, but also their lives in the process.
I don’t like dwelling on issues, past or present; neither do I enjoy making them public. When I see people blast their personal problems out on social media, it immediately makes me cringe. But, if somehow sharing a mistake in my life could help save someone else from going down the same road, I am willing to take on complete transparency.
I was handed my copy of Fierce Conversations by my pastor when Joel and my relationship hit rock bottom in November, 2016. I had reached a point where I stopped going to family events he was attending. I was hurt, I was broken, and I wanted nothing to do with him. This book, which I managed to have the wherewithal to mention in my little speech, was the tool I needed to help mend what was broken between us. My copy is now covered in a mixture of orange highlighter markings and penciled in scribbles.
The book is purposefully written towards both individuals looking to repair relationships in the workplace and in personal life through better communication. The focus is the conversation being had, the premise of the book being “The conversation is the relationship”.
This excerpt describes exactly what happened between Joel and me:
“If the conversation stops, all of the possibilities for the relationship become smaller…”
Fierce Conversations taught me the importance of questioning reality and being honest with myself and with others. But perhaps the most important lesson I learned was that of being silent. One of the most difficult parts of an argument, for me, is not jumping in to defend myself, to explain my point of view. I learned the power of listening and then clarifying what the other person is saying in order to better understand their heart.
My SIL, Mallory, and me.
God was certainly in every step of this, but I believe too many people lazily rely on God to mend their broken relationships when they actually need to step up and do some of the awkward, difficult work themselves.
If you are in such a situation, this book has the potential to open doors for you which once seemed wedged closed.
While losing my brother to Rome for three years is difficult, the time we lost together due to our inability to have a fierce conversation is worse, by far. In a short time, we will be separated by a distance of 4,325 miles, yet I know we will be closer than many days spent within walking distance from one another.
If you are in need of a fierce conversation in your life, don’t wait. Read the book. Have the conversation.
Photos from send off party courtesy of my SIL, Mallory Lunetta.