Break My Heart for What Breaks Yours

I don’t think I’ve ever learned so much about myself in one time period as when I briefly saw a Christian counselor back in late 2008. I initially went because I had a horrible relationship with my mother at the time (which has gotten back on track, thank God). But, in working through that issue with my mom, I ended up spending a session with my counselor talking about communication levels.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, I’ll do my own paraphrase (they exist in many formats, but they’re all similar):

Superficial – The things we say that we put basically no thought or intentions into. The “Hi, how are you?” and “Good, how are you?” that you hear 900 times a day in the elevator at work.

Factual – Basically like your Facebook or Twitter status. After the superficial level, we’ll often move to things like “So what’s new?” or “How is your job going?” Again, very little thought is required at this level of interaction.

Evaluative – This is where a person starts to become defined to another. We can share our opinions, goals, dreams, desires, etc. Normally, agreement at this level is the basis for the start of a friendship, and disagreement, vice versa.

Emotional – If two people are comfortable sharing opinions with one another, even if they don’t necessarily agree on all points, they may be more comfortable moving further and sharing emotions with one another. Typically, women move to this level much more easily than men.

Communal – The level at which two people are so emotionally intertwined that they actually feel the emotions of the other with mutual intensity. Ideally, this is the level at which married couples would communicate.

I loved talking about these. Having these variable definitions of communication between people allowed me to get a better understanding of the relationship I had with EVERYONE in my life. From the coworker who only ever discusses weather and politics, down to the MySpace pen-pal who knows the deepest, darkest voids of my heart. And having those things in mind, I was able to see more clearly why the relationships existed as they did. I loved learning about how we tend to match communication levels with people, and how we tend to seek out people who will easily move to the level at which we’re most comfortable talking.

However, I was particularly interested in those relationships that somehow managed to cross the level at which I was genetically predisposed to remain: Evaluative.

So, out of curiosity, I asked my counselor what enabled people to move from Evaluative communication to Emotional communication. And consequently, from Emotional to Communal. His answer is something that has profoundly impacted my relationship with God ever since:


And like that, my relationships with my closest friends, as well as my relationship with Jesus, were put into a sharply-focused perspective. Frequency, it’s that simple. We learn to trust our closest friends through frequency of sharing our opinions, thoughts, emotions, feelings, etc. When we share those things on those deeper levels with people everyday, it comes more naturally to us.

And suddenly, I realized why I felt so distant from God sometimes. How often was I making time for him? And to what level of communication was I going?

What is your relationship with God like? Is it one in which you might have a casual thought or two about him once a week or so? Is your Bible reading a quick thumb through that never really sinks in? Is your prayer life on the level of thanking God for the same things you thank him for every time (ie: you don’t even think about it)?

Or, are you in a communal relationship with God? Do you frequently talk to God about every thought or feeling that crosses your mind or heart, no matter how painful or discouraging it may be? When you read his word, do you give it your utmost attention and earnestly seek to understand what God is saying to you? When you pray, are you reaching down deep to the things that your heart desires most, and trusting God to make good on those prayers?


Post a Comment