I had been dating a guy for several months when it became clear to me that our relationship wasn't going to go the distance. The trouble was, he really seemed to care for me and to enjoy being with me. I dreaded having to have "the talk" with him-you know, the one where you say, "But we can still be friends." I'd had that kind of talk before and usually wound up losing a friend. I truly didn't want to lose this one.
What's the best way to communicate difficult information when you don't want to hurt someone? Words that work in one instance may not work in another. People's backgrounds are different, their life experiences are different, and their moods can change from one minute to the next. How can you be sure you'll say the right thing?
A good place to start would be to consider the nature of communication itself. What's being communicated? Who's communicating to whom? God fills all space, and He is the only intelligence. All good ideas, therefore, come from Him. Every fact in creation comes from God. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy states, "The intercommunication is always from God to His idea, man" (p. 284). Think about this. Anything and everything that is right for us to express originates in God, and His expression in us is one way He communicates.
In my case, I had gotten the message that the relationship wasn't going to end up a romantic one, even though it was a strong friendship. This message had come loud and clear to me, and it felt honest and right. Because I worried about hurting my friend I prayed about the situation. I prayed to hear God's guidance, to ask how I could express God's will to my friend.
The answer came to me to say nothing! I asked myself, If God was revealing the nature of our friendship to me so clearly, why should I assume my friend wouldn't perceive the same message? Well, you know, he did. We never even discussed it. Our relationship simply stayed firmly where it was. We remain good friends.
Of course, often you do have to say something. The book of James in the Bible has excellent thoughts on this subject. It says, "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace" (3:17, 18). We can all turn to "the wisdom that is from above" to lead us to know and say the right thing.
Another time, when I was heading up a volunteer activity, one of my staff members let me know that another member had done something totally inappropriate while on duty. I couldn't just let this go by without saying something. This time I was expected to take corrective action. So once again I prayed.
I spent some time appreciating the obvious sense of service that had led this man to our organization in the first place. I appreciated the good qualities he expressed. I'd come to value, as the Science of Christ had showed me, that God is all good, and that anything good originates in Him. Neither this man nor I could be harmed by learning to do our work better. God was supporting us in that effort.
I didn't formulate what I was going to say, but recognized once again how God governed all right communication. He would reveal both the best opportunity and the best words to meet His purpose.
Guess what happened? The very next time I worked with the man, he actually brought the subject up and asked me if what he had done was all right. I let him know why actions such as he'd taken weren't generally a good idea. It turned out that he hadn't known a key point about our work. Once he knew, he understood immediately why what he'd done hadn't been appropriate. And that was that.
God loves us all. His intention is that we live in harmony. When we ask Him, He always supplies the right ideas.
My mother and
my brethren are these
which hear the word
of God, and do it.