Saturday, March 16, 2013

Help, My Friend Talks Too Much!

"For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power..." I Thess. 1:5a

It was a feat of endurance listening to Amira talk non-stop for about two hours. It was mostly trivia which didn’t lack detailed information. She had a way of talking that hardly allowed room to interact. I discovered after numerous visits that this would be the pattern and I wasn’t certain if I wanted to continue visiting her. It seemed like a waste of time. There was always much I wanted to share with her, especially the Good News. I began praying for more grace if God wanted me to continue visiting her. There are numerous women like Amira in my life. They open their mouths and out comes a torrent of words like a rushing waterfall. Perhaps you have a Muslim friend like this. Or did. Sometimes it can be so exhausting that we give up with them. As I prayed about this the Spirit seemed to be saying to me, “Joy, just relax and listen to them.” Listen? That’s all I do with them. “No, I mean really listen to them.” So, I decided to relax, let them talk as long as they need to, and listen with no agenda of my own. What a difference it has made. Usually a person talks compulsively at length because there is underlying anxiety. Suddenly, the flow of words parts a way and finally I can speak. But, since I have relaxed and listened, the Spirit has actually revealed her underlying need and I can address that. So much is revealed just by listening. Then I gather up all the fragments of her words and say, “Why don’t we talk to God about all these things?” or I ask if I can read something from the Bible that might interest them. Over the years I have gone from resenting and being agitated by compulsive long talking to discovering that much is being revealed which leads to wonderful evangelistic opportunities. Time is not wasted.

Help, My Friend Won’t Talk!

Then there are other women like Sumaira. She just clams up and is too shy to talk. No matter what question I ask she only answers with a yes or no or only a few words. It’s the other extreme of Amira. An hour of visiting with Sumaira can be a feat of endurance. After a few visits with women like Sumaira I want to give up. I get too exhausted trying to make conversation that won’t go anywhere. I prayed for more grace from God. Then the Spirit gave me an idea. There are many excellent photos on which can be printed up and made into a notebook of photos for conversation. I choose pictures that display emotions especially: a woman who is revealing sadness, joy, guilt, shame, fear, uncertainty, etc. There’s no end to finding photos which can lead into spiritual conversations. The photo of a Muslim woman sitting in front of a closed door with her head bowed low creates quite a conversation. You can ask questions like: where is she, why is her head down, what do you think is troubling her, why is she tired, have you ever felt that? Suddenly, Sumaira is not shy. She is engaged in conversation because she can identify with the woman. Another idea God gave me was to take a cloth bag of stones with one word written on them like wisdom, truth, compassion, etc. I ask her to pick a stone and we’ll talk about it. She loves this ritual and we do it often. The words produce questions and stories.

A Muslim woman may talk too much or not enough which can prove challenging for us to endure but the Spirit is able to breakthrough and show us the way to speak spiritual Life to them. He can also help us if we talk too much or not enough!

Dear heavenly Father, I need much more grace. Please supply it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.