There’s been an interesting area of growth in my life the last few years. I’ve always disliked small talk. When I talk about the weather, I want to go full on science talk with it. So if we ever meet in the elevator and you mention how it’s going to rain today, be prepared for me to talk about how it’s caused by the front moving in from the south, but it won’t snow because the cloud temperature is too warm for it to form correctly.
But even though I’d elevate that conversation beyond small talk, it still doesn’t really mean much in the big picture. I love to have long talks about many things that just honestly don’t mean too much. They don’t greatly impact you. I used to avoid the type of conversations that would.
I didn’t want small talk, but I didn’t want to have real conversations either. In my romantic pursuits I didn’t want to have talks that felt heavy; I didn’t think they were too necessary at that point. A few years ago I began to change as I was finishing up college. During that time I started to become dissatisfied with the persistent meaningless conversations I was having. I wanted more. I wanted my interactions to actually mean something. That’s when I really began to grow.
The heavy talks that can stress you out are critically important to have in close relationships with your friends and family. They build deep, solid connections. They allow you to work through past hurt or drama. You don’t talk about serious things because you are close to someone; you are close to someone because you have serious talks. I became much closer to the members of my family when we began to talk about our feelings openly and honestly. It grew us each personally and as a unit.
I’ve also come to realize that a willingness to talk about important subjects is one of the most important traits to have in a romantic relationship. Since mid-November I’ve been in my first dating relationship. We’re still in that stage where everything is sunshine and rainbows, where it’s easy to get our heads in the clouds and lose sight of the ground. But, we’ve also been having honest conversations about setting boundaries, how to care for each other emotionally and physically, how to keep ourselves pointing to God instead of ourselves. It’s keeping us grounded and secure in knowing where we are and what’s going on. The boundaries we have set in specific terms give us a sense of peace knowing that we are actively protecting each other.
It can be difficult to have these types of conversations. The subject matter is something close to us, something we feel strongly about, and generally something we have an emotional stake in. I felt fear going into the talks when I was younger, and I still feel nervous even when I know that the conversation will go really well. But the benefits that come from talking with your people are worth it.
It doesn’t always go well, though. The experience might be awkward or uncomfortable. It may bring up old hurts or resolve in a way you didn’t like. But let yourself grow out of these negative experiences. After all, the Bible tells us that positive growth can come out of moments of hurt. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4 NIV)
So be bold, be brave, and talk about real things. It may be less comfortable at times than small talk, but it only gets more important the older you get. It’s a chance to learn and a chance to grow.
If you know someone who struggles with having deep, meaningful conversations, will you email them this post to encourage them?