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  • Katie Smith

Sick of my story--rewind & repeat.

Have you ever woken up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and then you can't fall back asleep because you're replaying conversations with people you had the day before?

Before one of those not-so-fun nights, my husband had asked me poignant question, "Why do you always lay down on the proverbial conversation grenade? You always share the most vulnerable parts of your story in order to help others take the heat of an awkward silence after small talk. You get deep quick, so you're the only one not keeping it light. That's why you replay it all night, wishing you hadn't given up all your cards at once."

Okay..... there may be some truth to this "strangely deep" analysis from my light-hearted husband, but I realized it was more than just me escaping the natural break in conversations that keeps me jumping into the deep end of the pool.

We all naturally edit ourselves around certain people--strangers, extended family, or new acquaintances. Without realizing it, we clench our jaws or bite our tongues and manage other people's expectations while considering the environment for social cues. This exhausting subconscious exercise causes us more tension in our necks than we realize until the encounter is done, and then we feel exhausted.

If I'm in a new setting, say a baby shower, wedding, holiday dinner, where I have to start from the beginning of my life's cassette tape, I just push "play" on specific highlight to avoid the exhaustion of scrambling through the whole tape. I pick out an easy chapter title, like most people would (work, job, kids, etc.), but somehow with the mention of my second son , I quickly find myself regurgitating dramatic scenes from his birth. My husband jokes that within ten minutes of meeting someone, somehow I end up talking about my womb as if it's as common as the weather.

I realized that I've been hitting "rewind and repeat" rather than mentioning a smaller, less provocative part of my story. Perhaps I'm afraid the listener won't accept a fragment of a chapter. Then I'll have to fumble to connect dots for them in a less streamlined version. Or perhaps I want them to have a complete picture full of intriguing details rather than a dull, overused cliff notes version. In reality I have simply become conversationally lazy.

If I know you well, then I can sit and listen to your most recent thoughts and activities. But if you are new in my life, and things hit a stalemate, well, I have been known to hit rewind and repeat. A conversational rut is as dangerous as a physical one. Comfort ignites apathy, lethargy, or worse-- insincerity.

In the same way that living in a routine negates the Spirit from directing our steps, neglecting the Spirit in conversations shuts the door on opportunities for Him to speak and direct our interactions. Peter said, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15).

When we are gently listening and offering good questions rather than hitting rewind or repeat, then we can keep our own cassette tape from getting tangled or overused, and God's story is always seamless. Vulnerability aids in deepening relationships, but it can also take away from someone else sharing their most vulnerable chapter. I'm getting out of a rut and learning to hit Pause. Pray. And then Proceed.

--Carefully & Carelessly avoiding repeat

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