We can all think of people in our lives that we trust. It may be that they stay true to their word, or that they’re always there for us no matter what. It may be the history we share with them, that we know them and have no reason to doubt them. In the same way, the longer that we walk with God the more convinced we are that He’ll never leave us or forsake us, that He is our Rock and His promise never fails. Even when times are hard or confusing we know He’s at work for our good.
This is the kind of trust that God is calling us to today. We know He loves us and we know He knows what’s He’s doing. We just don’t know exactly where He’s leading. All we know is that we are supposed to be in communication with Him constantly. Don’t worry! Not all prayer needs to be a deep theological discourse. Our communication with God should be similar to our communication with each other—it has different levels.
LEVEL 5 – GENERIC CLICHES: We might hug, kiss, shake hands, smile, make eye contact, and face one another. We exchange pleasantries and use clichés. We expect clichés at the beginning and end of every conversation, regardless of our feelings about a person. Examples: “Hello, how are you?” “I’m fine. How are you?” “Paper or plastic?” “Thanks for coming. Have a nice day.”
LEVEL 4 – WHAT YOU KNOW: We could use factual communication such as making observations, sharing knowledge or engaging in small talk to network, to schmooze, or to work the room. This includes reporting what we’ve read, what we’ve studied for a test, showing pictures of our family, and exchanging information about ourselves. Factual communication is relatively safe and most of us do this well. Examples: “I’m majoring in business administration.” “Did you watch the basketball game last night?” “What did we do in class last Friday?”
LEVEL 3 – WHAT YOU THINK: We offer our opinions, ideas and judgments. If we offer our opinions the odds are that others will offer their opinions too, which may not be the same as ours. So we must be prepared for an eventual conflict or disagreement. Avoid sarcasm and nonverbal put-downs like rolling your eyes in response to someone else’s comments. Examples: “I agree with you!” “Of all my brothers and sisters, Mark is the better athlete.” “I thought that movie was excellent, especially when Mace Windu was fighting Darth Sidious.” “I’m not convinced that what you’re saying is reasonable.”
LEVEL 2 – HOW YOU FEEL: We can share our emotions and feelings with another person. We allow others to know our heart. This involves the need for self-awareness, self control, flexibility and empathy. Examples: “I deeply appreciate your thoughtfulness and generosity in helping me earlier.” “I’m so frustrated with you!” “I’m wish that I hadn’t called you that name. I hope that you’ll forgive me.” “He called me! I’m so excited to see him again!”
LEVEL 1 – PEAK COMMUNICATION (rare): This is the experience and realization of being on the same page. Coming together with another in an extraordinary way. Two individuals who are gut leveling experience a transformation when they are sharing the exact same emotion with the same level of intensity. It’s as if, for the moment, two souls merge into one. Peak communication is rare, even among close friends and family members. Examples: “I love you. I love you too.” “I’m so angry with you. I’m so angry with you as well.” “I’m glad that we were able to fight long enough to get this resolved. Yes, I feel exactly the same way, glad that we communicated collaboratively.” “I’m scared. So am I.”
Some things to remember about Levels of Communication: The greater the need to communicate our feelings, the harder it is to do. Each conversation ought to begin with cliché communication and move through the levels (however quickly seems appropriate) before moving to the more intimate levels. Generally, we look for the other individual to reciprocate at the same level of intensity. Sharing our ideas and feelings is generally reserved for those whom we trust. We generally share our essence with those we’ve known a long time. To do this with others is pseudo-intimacy. Don’t be fooled!!!