Tuesday, June 8, 2010

About the Conversation Gene

You know how they say that women have some astronomical number of words they need to use in one day,while men have some tiny fraction of that number that they will use before they shut off for the day?

I don't know the numbers.  What i do know is that there is a common conception that women talk a lot, and men don't.

I know you've heard this.

Preachers and comedians, alike, make jokes about it.

It's on sitcoms.  They write books about it.  Whatever.

I know this concept is out there, but i simply don't relate.

I don't have the conversation gene.

I think that maybe, a few generations ago, the women in my family tree might have had the conversation gene.

But when my mother was born, my grandfather's anti-conversation gene was so strong that it all but collapsed the any hint of talkativeness among women in my family.  O.k., just me and my mom.

It's not that we don't like people.

It's not even so much that we don't want to talk to people.

It's more that we often just don't have anything to say.

We may feel that we are entirely involved in a group conversation because we're listening and considering everything being said.  We just don't find the need to talk about it.  I don't know why.

Now, i will admit that my father's conversation gene was pretty strong (also in contradiction to the words-per-day business).  It was just strong enough to allow me to have a slightly stronger inclination toward talking to people than my mother.  But i still have to work at it.

O.k.  let me tell you why i'm telling you this.

This past Sunday, i arrived at church fairly early because i thought i was expected to help with the children's ministry.  Turns out, i wasn't needed at all, so i got myself a cup of coffee and sat down in the lobby.

While i was sitting against the wall in a chair, sipping my coffee and looking very busy doing it, a friendly-looking young couple walked in 30 minutes or so early for church.  I don't think they had ever been to our church before - or at least i didn't recognize them.  There was a greeter at the door who i'm sure shook their hands and told them when church started, etc., but once they got past the greeter, they were kind of on their own.

There were regular church people there.  There was the coffee lady and the children's church lady and the sound booth guy and the nursery lady and all those people's kids - and couple more people.  And all of us, including me, were a little self-absorbed.  I'm just being honest here.

This nice couple stood in the foyer of our church quietly talking to each other and looking a little lost, while not one person managed to greet them.  I did, at one point, manage to catch the eye of the lady and squeak out a very weak, "hi," but that was it.

A few minutes passed.  Probably 15 minutes or so.  Still no one attempted to strike up conversation with these two.  And they grew weary of standing around feeling lost, and they left.

When i put it all together in my head and realized what had happened, i was ashamed and mournful.

My bashful meter had been turned way up, and i had allowed these two nice people to walk away from my church feeling snubbed, while i busily sipped my coffee.

Bashful's not from God, by the way.  Quiet can be from God.  Bashful, not so much.

I asked the Lord to forgive me, and a few minutes later when a different new couple walked in, i made sure to introduce myself and make them feel welcome.

And that got me thinking.  Maybe i could do more.  More to make sure that doesn't happen anymore.  My wheels are still turning on that, but my spirit is open to God about it.  I don't want anyone to ever feel snubbed in the house of God.  God's not a snubber.

One thing i need is practice.  I'm not feeling snubby.  I just have to work at conveying that.

Today, i was at the washateria, you know, washing teria, and i got a chance to practice.

I made eye contact with a wandering co-teria washer and said, "hi, how are you today?"

That was pretty simple, right?

Well, thankfully, this nice lady has inherited the conversation gene full tilt, and she carried the conversation from there.  We had a lovely conversation in fact.  I even remembered to introduce myself (first and last name) and remember her name as well.  I even know where she works and where i can possibly send some business that will benefit her family.

It's pretty important to be nice to people outside of church, not just inside, and i was pleased that the Lord showed His grace to me when i opened up my heart-- and my non-conversationalist mouth -- to HIM.


  1. Beth, I am proud of you for acting on the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Those two people may have been angles sent by God to help you see a need.
    That, by the way, is one of this pastor's biggest beefs with church members. They usually expect some one else to make people feel wilcome.
    Love you,

  2. I'm so glad that Daddy God is growing you!!! You do have the conversation gene when its someone you know ~ like me:-)!!! I love and need our talks!!!!

    I love you too!!!


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