Many years ago, when we were a young family in Mississippi, Ray taught a Sunday School class in a little hideaway upstairs classroom. It was a young marrieds class about marriage. He would be the first to tell you that he was way too young to be teaching such a class. We remember it fondly though.
When our family moved from there to Urbana, Illinois, for Ray to preach there, our church in Mississippi had a going away party for us. Each Sunday School class took turns doing some kind of performance for our and the rest of the church’s entertainment. The two-year old class had a simple presentation. They wore brown paper bag costumes. The teachers had cut an oval out of the front of the bag for their cute little faces to peek out. Surrounding the oval were glued on curls of brown paper strips. This was their mane. They were adorable. They walked on stage and held up a sign that read: We’re going to miss you. No lion!
Ray’s young married class performed a song to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Each stanza began with “On the first (second, third, fourth , etc.) day of class, my teacher said to me . . . .” This they followed with statements such as:
- Discipline the kids.
- Learn to love your in-laws.
- Share the work.
- Share pregnancy.
- Cooperate with each other.
You get the idea. The one line that has stood out to us more than any other after these almost 36 years is this one:
- Communicating is the key.
It’s not unusual to hear Ray or me sing that line to each other. It’s no wonder that we remember it best. It was the replacement line for “and a partridge in a pear tree.”
Communication was not a strong suit for either Ray or me back then. One idea that would have helped us is this one. Every person needs opportunities when the floor is all theirs, when the listener gives the talker a chance to be, well . . . the talker, while the other person is an “Oh, yes,” “Oh, I’m so sorry,” “Oh, that must be tough,” or “Wow, that is wonderful,” “Oh, I am so happy for you,” “Wow, that is really fascinating,” or “I am so proud of you” listener. In other words, times when we say, in effect, to the other person: “It’s all yours! You have the floor. I’m all ears. I’m not going to question you. I’m not going to object. I’m not going to have a better story. It really is all yours.”
Attention is a sweet gift to present to someone you love. It’s a great way to learn, too.
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
and weep with those who weep.
Be of the same mind toward one another;
do not be haughty in mind,
but associate with the lowly.
Do not be wise in your own estimation.