Be The 3rd Podcast: The Summer of ’69

It was the summer of 1969, and I was about four years old, it was in my fourth year of life, but still a few months shy of my actual fourth birthday. Many people don’t believe that I have a memory from this early on, but I know that because it is such a big part of my story of what led me here, and what got me here to where I am today, that it’s a real memory. 

My mom was sitting on the couch facing one direction and I was standing at her side facing the other, and she was brushing my hair, and it hurt. Because back then, I’m not sure if there were detanglers yet but even if they existed moms had a job to do and sometimes a little discomfort didn’t really matter. I was a little girl with matted little girl hair so pulling and tugging through the hair to smooth it out was just part of the process. 

A few brush strokes in and I realize that it didn’t hurt as bad. I could still feel my mom’s hands on my hair. She was still going through the motions. Stroking the brush down on the top of the hair and using her other hand underneath to keep control of the tangled mess that I woke up with. But I could also tell that she was distracted. So, I looked up at her face. At the time  I didn’t know why as humans we look at faces to read people, but this is a natural tendency and even an almost four-year-old knows where to find answers in silent communication between humans. The face. 

I looked at her face and I saw that she was looking straight ahead of her, behind me. I read her face, in my little girl knowledge of the world, as fear. I didn’t understand emotional contagion at the time but that fear that I sensed in her caused fear in me, so I abruptly turned to see what she was looking at. 

Our black and white television was on and on it were images of the first moon landing. I know that today we take technological advances for granted. If you’re like me, nothing surprises me anymore, although come to think of it some things do scare me, because I don’t believe that there is anything that they can’t do if they wanted to. 

But back then, for a young mother in 1969 to see a man walk on the moon it had to have been amazing, and maybe even a little fearful. 

Looking back, she probably wasn’t showing fear but something more like astonishment or awe maybe mixed with unbelief. At any rate, I read fear and it scared me enough to make me move, and to react. I have no idea what I would have done had there been any kind of real threat as a pre-four-year-old. We communicated without words, and I understood what was happening. I read a facial expression, I reacted, and I remember it. Even now I don’t think I read her wrong, I just read fear because that is all I could comprehend or understand from what I saw in her face. 

I didn’t know then that humans are gifted in the art of communication, understanding others, reading others, communicating without words these are all part of our natural ability to communicate. Humans are made specifically for relationship and because of that to communicate with one another. 

We know that human beings we are made in the image of God. 

Although the image of God is multi-dimensional. At Be the 3rd we focus on one part of the image of God and that is the relational. God is a god of relationship. 

In the beginning we know that God wasn’t alone. The first verse in the book of John verifies this. 

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

We have learned throughout the years that the word, word, stands for Jesus.

Even while creating humans God uses the plural pronouns of us, and our, Gen 1:26 God said, 

 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

God’s priority in all creation is us, humans. He desires nothing more than a relationship with us. We above anything else desire relationship with each other. Family, friendship, a romantic relationship, and to belong to a community, these are the things that matter us. But we also desire relationship with God. The knowledge of a higher power is innate in all of us. Rooted in the belief that there is something greater than humanism. God made us in His image planting that seed deep within our souls that He is in us and we are His. 

Jesus’ death and resurrection opened the door for a personal relationship with God. With the forgiveness of sins, and the ability to be made clean we are now able to stand before God without the intercession of a middle religious person. The moment of Jesus’ death the veil in the temple ripped. At that moment the separation between God and humans was dissolved (Matt 27:50-51), signifying that God would forever dwell in the hearts of humans, no longing in a building with limited access, but available to everyone through the sacrifice of Jesus. This is what established personal relationship with each of us.

God created us in His image (Gen 1:27) for relationship with Him but also for relationship with others. These are our greatest commandments from (Matt 22:34-36) When asked what is the greatest commandment Jesus is replied:

37 “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c]38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.

How can we love others if we’re not even sure if we like them? How can we love God fully when we don’t understand Him or His ways? 

The truth is many of our relationships fail or are struggling. Sometimes we choose to live in a stagnate state because we fear the difficulty in trying to fix it, other times we just leave because of that same difficulty. 

So then If we were made for relationship, why then are they so hard?

Well God has not let us down. 

Very few of us talk about and even less of us listen to how we do communicate, how we should communicate, and how God wants us to communicate in order to get along in relationships using our innate communication abilities given to us by Him. These things allow us to sense movement, read faces, understand people and situations, react on instinct, and remain in control of our emotions, along with so many other aspects of the communication processes.  

I have committed every communication sin there is, and God has pulled me through the wringer on many occasions to teach me proper communication skills. I have also on occasion gotten it right and witnessed my communicative partner get it wrong. Learning to communicate well is not just a skill it is a process. I’ve had ups and downs, more downs than ups, but this isn’t something we learn in a day or a week. There is no quick fix and no weekend retreat that will make any of us a skilled communicator. It is a commitment to change, and a lifestyle. 

I have been a student of the communication process my whole life. Ever since that very early memory of mine in 1969 naturally communicating without words using nothing but instinct to figure out a situation. I have spent all my life, and a whole lot of my money searching for the answer to this one question, is there a right way to communicate?

I have made all the mistakes, and paid attention to them. I have watched others in their communication processes, seen their mistakes and their successes and I have witnessed the outcome. Some relationships flourished and some terminate. 

Relationships are worth fighting for, but we must put in the work to keep them alive. At the very least put them on life support and not allow them to die until we can find the fix. Precious friends, family members and even our working relationships are just too important to lose because we don’t know how to communicate effectively.  

I know how painful broken relationships are. Even when I have chosen to leave situations that at the time were unhealthy. That initial onset pain of walking away was at the time unbearable but now even years later there is still a constant throb of underlying pain for that broken relationship. 

Keep in mind when I talk about relationships, I am not focused solely on the romantic. Many people immediately go to the romantic when the word relationship is used. When I speak of relationship, I mean all relationships, family, friendships, neighbors, business, co-workers and so on. Anytime you’re interacting with another human being you are in a relationship.

Thankfully I have learned from all of these experiences. I have also learned from gathering information, going back to school, constantly reading books, articles. Listening to and watching my professors, employers’ colleagues, family, friends, and all the other folks that I have had some form of relationship with throughout my life. 

During this time of learning I have been improving my skills along the way. I say improving as opposed to perfecting because we’ll never be perfect. We’ll never get it totally right. Because it’s not the concept that is difficult to master, it’s the execution. As I said it is a lifestyle change. 

So, eventually, I came to this realization that if we were made in the image of God and God is a god of relationship and we were made for relationship with each other most of the answers will lie with Him so praying to God for answers has led me here to understand communication the way God intended, and yes, there is a right way. He has given us innate gifts, and special skills, all that we need to work through our relationships for a more productive outcome.

Remember that little girl at the beginning of this story. That little girl naturally without thought used her communication skills to observe, react, and understand an initial situation. It took me years to figure out the depth and significance of what happened that day and the importance of it. And I’m not talking about landing on the moon. I’m talking about the interaction between me and my mother. Reading the situation, reading her face, my spontaneous reaction, emotional contagion, understanding my mother’s feelings?  That all happened without words, and I knew it all instinctively and I was not even four years old. 

Through the last few years God has shown me that there is a way to success and that success doesn’t always mean a perfect relationship. At least not perfect in the sense that we as humans believe it should be. Success in this sense means a favorable or desirable outcome. 

Sometimes success means peace for a relationship that has ended and cannot be mended. Success can mean a deeper understanding of ourselves and our relationship partner, along with the communication process as a whole. Sometimes the best way to success is to let a relationship go for a time. Success can also mean honesty, vulnerability, and humility. Three places we don’t like to put ourselves when we are in relationships. 

Through my personal experiences and learned knowledge I hope to share some insights with you about the human communication process. Some dos and don’ts, some rights, and wrongs, but always the way God intended us to communicate one with another.

It’s 2023 a long way from 1969 and a very, very long way from the creation of human beings. We should be farther along than we are but that’s okay at Be The 3rd we dive deep into the exciting world of human communication.