Listen In: Building Faith and Friendship Through Conversations That Matter

The Book Impact Series

I met a special woman back in the fall of 2010. We were in Colorado Springs at the School of Spiritual Direction for a week with psychologist and author Dr. Larry Crabb. One afternoon she floated into the classroom with a huge grin on her face. She greeted a number of my classmates, gave them hugs and asked about their families. I was enamored. I wanted to know this woman. Since that day I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Larry’s wife Rachael Crabb much better. She shows incredible interest and love for everyone she meets, so when I heard that she and two of her closest friends were writing a book about conversations that matter in friendship, I knew it would be wonderful.

The Book

It is a groundbreaking book for women who long for deep friendship like I do. Authors Rachael Crabb, Sonya Reeder and Diana Calvin invite the reader to listen in like a fly on the wall as they dialogue about how their inner thoughts and feelings impact the way they relate to others.Red Rock

Here are 5 ways Listen In can transform your friendships.

It will validate your desire for deep connection. So many of us are lonely. We long for someone to be curious about our hearts and courageous enough to walk with us through deep waters. If you think you are crazy for craving deep connection, this book will prove that your longing is a holy one.

It will illuminate root causes for the relational tension in life. Each of the authors has a different struggle they explore with one another. They look beneath the surface of the struggle to find the thoughts and feelings at the root of it. You can, too.

It will demonstrate the transformational power of curiosity. The questions the authors ask in their conversations with one another allow them each to open up and discover new insights that lead to new freedom. When another human being is curious about your heart, you will likely feel free to explore and share it.

It will invite you to open up in the presence of people you trust. Vulnerability is often a frightening feeling because our hearts are fragile. You don’t need to open up to everyone, but opening up to someone you trust can be transformational. The authors’ openness will embolden and empower you to dig deeper in discussions with friends you trust.

It will serve as a guide for you and your friends as you explore the ground of intentional friendship. You don’t need to go to counseling to find others who are curious about your heart. Gather your courage and find one or two friends with whom you feel comfortable and discuss Listen In, one section at a time. You will be amazed at how quickly your friendships deepen.

(This section was taken from my article article on Her View From Home. Click here.)

The Impact

I was personally impacted while reading the dialogue between the three women. They each share how their relational style has been impacted by certain events in their lives. But they don’t stop there. They ask one another questions to dig deeper until they uncover something more true than their fears. I could relate to how Rachael lost her voice, to Sonya’s feeling that she was too much for others and to Diana’s special relationship with her dad. And as the friends explored each of their experiences I found myself hopeful that I too could grow past my fears by relying on God’s love and be free to love well with a relational style that is inviting, rather than demanding.

Author Q&A

What do you most want us to get out of reading Listen In?

IMG_2239“I trust and pray that readers will catch a glimpse of the Larger Story taking place above their messy, chaotic, frustrating Smaller story . When we are focused on our everyday lives we often miss that God is telling a good story that goes from eternity past to eternity future—HIStory!  We want readers to have a deep longing to know Christ and His power to move us all into conversations that really matter, to know Him & to make Him known. We feel strongly that turning our death words into life words ( Proverbs 18:21) can be freeing in that process. Listen In, the best is yet to come! The Larger Story is good —God is the producer and director, Jesus is the star, and we have bit parts—let’s all play our parts well to bring Glory to HIM.” ~Rachael

“What I hope readers gain from reading Listen In is a deeper longing to know Christ as they embrace the story He continues to write on their life. As I study the Gospels and listen in on conversations Christ has with people, they seem to be conversations that matter. Christ speaks to people’s soul and awakens longing in them–longing for intimacy and deeper relationship. I hope the book awakens that longing in others and also gives hope that it can happen….may be sloppy at times but experiencing gospel community is possible.” ~Sonya

“I want readers to get that having a good, face-to-face, heart-to-heart conversation is something worth pursuing. I want them to read our conversations and think, ‘Wow, they are just like me. They’re stumbling through life/work/marriage/parenting and they’re inviting others into the struggle, where they can be known and loved.’ And I want readers to let that move them deeper into the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ—completely known, and perfectly loved.” ~Diana

What is the best part about the friendship you share with the other two authors?

“We need friends to have conversations that matter & we can Listen In like Christ ( valuing another more highly then ourselves) by putting HIM on display as we talk with one another.” ~Rachael

Listen In Authors

Sonya Reeder, Diana Calvin & Rachael Crabb

“The best part of my friendship with Rachael and Diana is allowing them to know me. However, it is also the most scary. I like having history with them. We have lived many years together and traveled much life together (heartaches, deaths of mothers and friends, struggles with kids, new seasons in marriage etc.). You can’t manufacture history and a long-term commitment to another.” ~Sonya

“The best part about my friendship with Rachael and Sonya is the care we share. We are all in different cities and don’t get to see one another as often as we would like, but when we do get together, there’s just a heart for each other that’s hard to describe. In our very full lives and worlds, talking with these ladies is a respite where I can be unguarded and unmasked. That is such a gift—and just writing this reminds me how much I value these women, and makes me want to pursue time more time with them!” ~Diana

Do you have friendships like this? Do you want to cultivate deeper friendships?

Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Get the book and gather a couple of friends.
  2. Read and discuss it section by section, utlizing the study guide at the end of the book.
  3. Then let me know how it goes! If you are interested in following the Listen In authors, you can find them on Facebook here: Listen In Facebook Page.

And as always, your amazon.com and goodreads.com reviews are always greatly appreciated!

Stepping Out of Self-Shame: Part 2

It happened again. I messed it all up. I let down some of the people I care about most last week by not paying attention to the details. It wasn’t that I intentionally blew my husband or my friend off, but I didn’t execute tasks with the kind of precision they required and I ended up putting more stress on people I care about. Ugh. I don’t want that. I don’t want to be the wife and friend you can’t count on.

Man, it’s tempting to let the old self-shaming talk drive me into a hole.

sun hat

“He would have been better off with a woman who wouldn’t screw up like this!”

“Why would she want me around if I keep letting her down?”

I’ve said these things before. But as soon as those thoughts started to enter my mind this time, I shook my head and said, “NO! I am exactly the wife Aaron needs. And I am a good friend in other ways. I’m not going to shame myself into hiding and resentment. No. I’m going to keep engaging with them because I care about them.”

The first goal when stepping out of self-shame is to step into the light of love and see the situation for what it is as I described in Part 1 (Click here)  but what do we do next?

2. Take responsibility for your short-comings. Ask forgiveness when forgiveness is needed and help when help is needed.

Do I need to ask for forgiveness or do I need to ask for help in a situation like this? Honestly, I’ve studied and analyzed this stuff for years and I’m still not completely sure. Some people pay great attention to details and they follow through with intense commitment. I put my intensity in other places – like working through relational and theological issues and being incredibly present with people in their pain. Do others need forgiveness when they aren’t there for me in these ways that are important to me?

Maybe we all need to be more free with our apologies, less offended by others and lavish grace on each other even when we don’t deserve it.

My struggle with the lack of discipline when I am distracted feels like a never-ending battle.

I can’t promise I’ll do better next time, but what can I do?

I need to help my future self. I can’t just assume I’ll do better next time because as leadership and strengths coach Laurie Hock says, “You’ve got to have a plan. You can’t just say you’ll respond differently because it’s unlikely you will without a plan of an alternative positive action.” So how can I take responsibility in a proactive way so I really am less likely to put undue stress on others next time? I can think of two important points:

  1. Live within my limitations. We all have limits to our time and energy and I am no exception. I am not able to do everything I want to do or think I should do. I should offer to do only what I am willing to invest my time and energy in doing. Saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else. What will I say yes to?
  1. Manage my weaknesses. We all have responsibilities and we don’t want to write them off by saying “I’m not good at this, so I can’t do it.” After I get specific about what I will and will not commit to doing, I need to figure out how to manage my weaknesses. When I choose to take on a responsibility, I need to own it. Then I can plan ahead and figure out what safeguards I can put in place to try to head off the mistakes I made last time.

IMG_4775This time I decided I needed to apologize to both people. And in the future, I need to be more aware when I feel distracted while discussing details. If I’m distracted I need to choose which thing to think about in the moment and figure out when I will give my attention to the other thing. I simply cannot multi-task my thoughts because then I end up multi-tasking people. And that is not acceptable.

I am so grateful for the people who allow me into their lives. And I am grateful that we can have hard conversations when I need to take responsibility for my wrong-doing and my mistakes. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – relationships are messy! Life is messy. I am messy.

But I am loved. I have a lot to offer the people I love and I’m going to keep offering it, even when I mess up. More on that next time…

How do you know when to ask for forgiveness and when to ask for help? What safeguards do you put in place around your weaknesses? Answer in the comments below or on Facebook.

Self-Shame Series:

The Prerequisite to Empowering Others

Stepping Out of Self-Shame: Part 1

The Day I Realized I Was Hurting Myself (Part 3)

Thank you for subscribing and sharing this post on social media. Let’s help each other out of self-shame and into a life of love.

What Every Friend Should Know About Offering Advice

5 Questions and Responses

I realize it’s hard to find real friends. I’ve heard a lot of complaints over the years about how people don’t really listen, they don’t really care and they don’t really want to connect deeply. But I believe that while it may seem that way on the surface, there are actually WAY more lonely people longing to connect than we realize.

Yesterday one of my articles ran with Her View From Home. The point of the article is this: there are more kindred spirits out there than you probably realize, but it takes courage to find them. I offer some suggestions about how to do so: (click here to read the article and share it if you think it might help someone.)

There is something else I learned about finding connections that feel like kindred spirits.

https://www.facebook.com/TauniMorrisPhotography?fref=ts

Photo courtesy of Tauni Morris Photography

We are all different on the surface. Our differences are enormous. Different genders, religions, cultures, stages of life, hobbies, interests, etc. The list is not infinite, but it seems like it is. With all of those differences, how could we ever find someone like us? How could we ever find a kindred spirit?

Let me tell you! By focusing on our humanity. What makes us all human? We all have bodies, thoughts, feelings, goals, longings and deep fears. And we all need love. But you’ll only have surface-relationships if you only talk about surface things. You will keep feeling alone and distant from everyone else if you try to “fit in” by doing what others do and saying what others say. No. If you want to actually connect and be known, if you really don’t want to feel alone, you’ve got to be brave and get to the heart.

Simply being there to listen and see the insides of a person is helpful. You don’t have to change them. Simply inviting a friend out of the darkness of secrecy and shame and into the light where they are loved can change a life! There may be a time for advice, but stick with the 80/20 rule. Listen and acknowledge 80% of the time and then when it feels like the other person is ready, go ahead and offer your wisdom – but only about 20% of the time. If you meet their pain with your wisdom all or most of the time, they’ll start to feel disrespected and tune you out.

5 things to ask and do to see and acknowledge the heart of your friend:

  1. What is my friend excited about right now? Be excited for them without bringing in your own story.
  2. What is my friend afraid of right now? Allow them to admit it without trying to dispel their fears.
  3. What is my friend longing for right now? Assume that there is a longing even deeper than the one they admit, but don’t press too hard. Do they say they long to be married? I’m sure that’s true, but what about being married do they long for? Validation? Companionship? To feel loved?
  4. What is going on underneath my friend’s frustration right now? Is he sad? Does she long for something she can’t find?
  5. How is my friend’s health? Is she getting enough sleep? Does he need a break? Is there anything I can do to relieve their physical burden?

Don’t give up on finding kindred spirits. Don’t give up on connecting and love and hope and the power of loving people right where they are.

The world needs your love.

**Tauni Morris Photography: Facebook (click here)

 

A Letter to Readers

Deep One,

Over three months have passed since I began to blog regularly. It’s a blip on the timeline of my life, but it’s been an intense blip, without a doubt. It’s hard to say if it was the reflective writing, strategizing, life or the weather that made for so much internal ebb and flow of angst and release. I suppose it’s probably everything mixed together.

If you read any of my posts, you are part of this. So thank you. It’s kind of odd to think that a blog could offer an opportunity for a relationship, but I hope it does. Because of this “relationship,” I’d like to ask a favorite question of mine: “How are we doing?” (read about the “How Are We Doing” conversation here). I’ll start.

How I’m Doing

Coffee TimeI regularly struggle with self-doubt. It certainly takes courage, trust and some self-confidence to put myself out there, but for every ounce of “I can do this,” there is a pound of “What do I think I’m doing? I’ll never be able to keep this up! I’m not even a real writer. People are going to get tired of me. I can’t even keep my house clean, why would I spend so many hours a week writing without getting paid to do it?!”

Yet there has been just enough feedback to keep me moving forward. Though for years I’ve been willing and able to share the deeper parts of myself with others, I’ve done so in conversations where I can see and hear the people with whom I’m sharing. If I’m an expert -albeit imperfect- at anything, I’m an expert at knowing what to share and what questions to ask in a conversation to invite others to go deeper.

But writing is an entirely different shtick. I don’t see the look in your eyes. I don’t know when you tuck something in your heart. And most of the time, I don’t even know who you are. Nearly all of the relational feedback I usually rely on to know what to say next, is gone.

So I end up looking for digital feedback. This is pretty much ridiculous. You know the Facebook game – it’s an impossible measure of how much something you say or post is “liked” by others. Besides, when you’re writing not to be liked but to make a difference, it’s like measuring weight with a ruler.

Misleading. Confusing. Impossible.

Intentional Friends

I’ve been playing with the concept of intentional friendship for over ten years. If there’s ever been a time when I’ve needed friends to intentionally seek out deeper conversations with me and offer their expertise, it’s now. Without these friends (and family-friends), I am alone and I am not blogging. Without them, I am more of a hot mess than I am usually. I am so grateful for my intentional friends. I hope you have friends like that. I hope you and I can be like that.

How I’m Doing, Really

WorkingBut if I dig a little deeper, the truth is that I love blogging. I love the opportunity to sit at the keyboard and search for what is stirring in me and release it through my fingertips. I love condensing offerings into short snapshots of life-reflected and clicking “Post to Live and Love Deeply.”

I love sharing my life with you.

And the more I write, the more I see my little posts as little works of art. They are bits of me – born out of enough vulnerability to invite you in, veiled in enough ambiguity to invite you to relate.

I hope.

I hope that you will continue to join me here every once in a while. I hope that a few of you will sign up for email updates (at the side or bottom of your screen). I hope a few more will comment and share. I hope that if you are touched by something you read here, you will share deeply with someone. It doesn’t have to be me. But my hope for Live and Love Deeply is that you might find you are not alone and that you have the courage to think and feel deeply so that you can connect and share more deeply in your relationships.

I hope it for both of us.

Miracles

If you pray, would you pray that I would share life and love in ways that help people connect deeply? Would you pray that this message would touch hearts and that we would be open to receive what Love has to offer? I really believe miracles happen. And they are most amazing when they happen in relationships.

How Are You Doing?

Now that I’ve shared how I’m doing, I would like to ask you the same question. I realize you probably do not think about reading this blog as though we have a relationship, but we kinda do. Especially if you respond in some way. There are many people I would love to hear from, but you are the one I want to take to coffee. Seriously. I do. So if you’re in town and want to do that, please let me know. Email and messages are also great. Your comments, likes and shares do make a difference for getting the word out and encouraging me. I really appreciate it. Your voice matters to me (read about that here).

  • How do you want to take risks to love?
  • When do you let your guard down and let others in?
  • What do you want to explore together?
  • Why do you choose to read posts from this blog? What aspects of it keep you coming back?

Thank you for reading. Thank you for your feedback and support. I deeply desire to share my journey with you, that we might impact one another to…

Live & Love Deeply,

Andrea Joy

Find me on…

Facebook: at Andrea Joy Wenburg

Twitter: @andreawenburg

Email: awenburg@gmail.com