Voices over the Fence

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 2:39 PM




There are seasons in my garage’s life. For some of those seasons my garage is a storage unit for ministry. This season does not allow for my car to comfortably make it inside so out of convenience we park just outside on the driveway. There are other seasons when it is a ping pong stadium and I have to park it just outside then as well. None of this bothers me, I am grateful to have a garage no matter what the season.

When I park on my driveway I have noticed that I can hear my neighbor’s conversations in their back yard quite easily. Which is no problem, it is a good way to get to know your neighbors; just kidding. With that thought brings the knowledge that they can easily hear conversations in my driveway when we are getting in the car; which is not a good way for my neighbors to get to know me.

I have four children at home under the age of 14 and at times I have two grandchildren with us from time to time that are two and under. Let me assure you that getting in the family vehicle can be a bit of a challenge.

You have to tell people to get in, you have to make sure everyone is buckled, and you have to reach across the seat to put in car seats. It can be a real challenge and some of the people involved can be very challenging. At times those challenges move me to say speak in a tone that I would not want my neighbors to hear.

Then there are the moments we have to chase someone around the car, or go back in the house three times to pick up our Bibles, a coat or some paper work for the place we are going. This happens often and I am sure at those moments if the neighbors are listening then they are getting a real treat.

For the next few minutes join me in self reflection and ask yourself this not so easy question. What would the world think of you if they could hear all your conversations, not just the ones in the driveway?

We do a pretty good job of holding our tongue in public, after all our reputation as a great person is on the line. Some do an okay job of using politically correct language at work. Then of course at church we are off the charts good about saying God Bless you when people sneeze and amen when the preacher says something that will help all those other people get right with God.

The holiday’s are here, stress is going to be at a high level. You are going to be around people who you might not always be around and let’s be honest you might not want to be around. Just at a normal stress level we often struggle with our words but at times when the stress is high, well let’s just say I am hoping the neighbors don’t like the cold weather when sitting on their patio.

As we ask ourselves the question of what the world would think of us as they heard our conversations let me turn it to a positive note. First forget the world and worry about those you live with. It is an inside game. Start inside your house and work your way out. If you are treating your family with respect in regards to words then you’re going to have little problem with the outside world.

If we use our words for healing not hurting, for expressing love not anger then our relationships will very likely have different outcomes, let me assure you.

So what is the best way to improve in this area of communication? I could give all the standard answers; we already know them. So here is my non standard answer: Act as if every conversation we are having will be heard by someone listening over the fence. Then go one step further and picture God sitting at the patio sipping a cup of coffee next door listening in. If that won’t change the way we communicate then it is unlikely the standard answers are going to do us any good anyway.

Scripture: Colossians 3:14, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” NAS

Proverbs 16:24, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, guide us to use our words for lifting up not tearing down. Guide us to be especially sensitive within our homes where we dwell with the ones we love the most. We ask these things in the name of Christ, Amen.


all simple/truths are written by richard harris

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