I’m pleased to welcome one of my favorite bloggers and wittiest friends to the “table” today. I’ve mentioned Kristi before, but she’s an excellent writer, a fun momma to 3 beautiful girls and a loving pastor’s wife. I know you’ll enjoy hearing from her as much as I did!
I’m so glad to be sharing here today! I met Kitty when we both lived in South Carolina, but our friendship didn’t really take off until I offered to pick our friend Bri up at the airport before last year’s Influence Conference. Bri mentioned that her roommate might need a ride too, and it ended up being Kitty! Since then those two have become valued voices in my life. Kitty and Bri encourage me to be ME, and to use my voice for the good of God’s Kingdom.
When I saw Kitty’s theme for October, I was so excited I was almost jealous. It’s SO perfect – helpful, funny, interesting. But when I read her second post, I realized how much I need this kind of thing.
I’m about to get vulnerable.When I was a junior in high school, my English class did a speech unit. The first speech we were assigned was an introduction, and we were instructed to talk for 2 minutes. Everyone was nervous, squirming in their chairs, and it took everything some of those kids had to squeak out their introduction. And we’d already been in class together for 2 months! I, on the other hand, got up and talked about myself for several extra minutes. I was the only one in the class to go over. Can you believe it? (My husband can.)
This scenario has, unfortunately, replayed itself several times in my life. I’m soft-spoken but extroverted, and often, I’m a selfish communicator.
For example, one night I was out with a group of women I didn’t know very well. We were split into two tables, and I ended up at a table full of mild-mannered, quiet (lovely) women, while the other group was laughing loudly, banging the table with their hands and curling up in laugh pains.
I felt like I was in a sitcom or something, where it camera zoomed in on the boisterous table and then came back to me, and I was sitting there, carefully cutting a single pea in half, lifting a piece to my mouth, and dabbing the corners daintily with my napkin.
The truth is, I wanted to be at the other table. I wanted to be with the loud people so badly it was hard to focus on the women I was with. One started talking and I tried to hold eye contact but another burst of hysterics from the other table distracted me to the point of no return.
But you know what? The table I was with deserved better.
I’m a church planter’s wife, and recently we’ve experienced some quick growth. It’s been incredibly encouraging, but even this good news comes with its growing pains. One thing I’ve noticed is that previously, I could make my way to almost every new person before we left the building. Now, there’s no way. I have to trust the other people in our church to welcome visitors, and I have to be present in the conversations I AM lucky enough to be a part of.
So I think my contribution to this table talk conversation is this: being a good conversationalist takes work.
For some, that may mean working to show up, to speak up, to be known. It may mean a long nap afterwards, because the work of good conversation was so exhausting.
For others, it mean mean showing up and holding back. Focusing on the people in front of you because they are worth your attention. Trusting others with people in the periphery and dignifying your conversation partner with genuine interest.
This is something I’m continuing to work on, and I’m thankful for the way this series has helped me remember to ask questions first, to listen actively, and to communicate thoughtfully, no matter which table I join.
Connect with Kristi at her blog And Babies Don’t Keep or on Instagram (@babiesdontkeep).