Or in English, throwing stones to the air. In Filipino, the continuation says, “if anyone gets hit, don’t be angry.” It’s a very Filipino way of dealing with things. Instead of giving our criticisms directly, we “throw it into the air” and expect people to know how to deal with it.
While I love the Filipino sensitivity to relationships (we seem naturally attuned to interpersonal interactions and can adapt quickly), there are times when we take it too far. This is one of those times.
If we have something to say to someone else, it’s best to just say it to them directly. If it’s worth saying, then say it well. If it’s not worth saying, then we should drop it. Either way works. What DOESN’T work are vague hints, guilt-inducing assertions, and indirect (padaplis) statements.
This passive-aggressive form of fail-communication has even made it’s way to the internet in the form of parinig Facebook statuses. (Is that right? Statuses? Statii? Staticocci?) You know the kind: “Some people really should…” If it’s worth saying, it’s worth saying directly. Another funny evolution of this is the dramatic status, then when friends ask the person says, “I don’t want to talk about it.” Hilarious.
So, is there something you need to say? Is there someone you’ve been hinting at and doesn’t seem to get the message? Why not start the process of telling them straight? Rebuild the relationship so you can eventually say what needs to be said. Obviously, we need to employ tact and sensitivity, but we can’t make “waiting for the right moment” be our excuse forever. Say it and enjoy the results.
Some Links to Help You Along the Way
An old blog I wrote about this topic. It’s from almost 5 years ago, but I’m rather proud of it.
People who don’t know anything are more likely to ask questions. This can lead to answers. Then they’ll know something.
The problem with knowing something is when people confuse it with knowing everything. People who think they know everything don’t ask anymore. Why would they? They know everything, or at least they think they do.
While none of us would ever say that we know everything outright, our actions may say something different. When we don’t ask questions, when we aren’t willing to learn more, when we aren’t open to correction that’s what we’re saying – “Why should I learn that? I know everything.” Or at the very least we’re saying, “I don’t need to learn that.” Famous last words.
When we can’t listen to people younger than us because- what do they know? We’re losing a chance to learn.
When people correct us and we respond angrily, why are we angry? Are we surprised to find out that we aren’t perfect?
People with a natural ability in certain areas are prone to the temptation to slack off. People with the discipline to keep learning will always outpace those without.
Are we open to new experiences and lessons or do we stick to stock knowledge? Can we admit that maybe our perception of something isn’t the sum total of that thing?
I remember talking to someone who dissed a certain culture he’d never visited or interacted with at length. It felt like the intellectual equivalent of a kid sticking his fingers in his ears and talking louder.
Can we connect to people as individuals or do we write them off with “I know the type.” I almost missed out on a very close friend that way. Good thing God and other people cut through my pig-headedness.
Have we written of an encounter with God because of our experiences in the past? Some people have had negative memories so they think God can’t possibly have anything good for them now. Others have “done that church thing” already and foolishly assume He has no more wonders ahead.
All of these are different ways that knowing something can make us dumber. Don’t make that mistake. The world is HUGE! Every person has a story to tell. God can do things we’ve never even seen. Better to know nothing but Him and enjoy the ride.
We know that we all possess knowledge.Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. (1 Corinthians 8:1)
“I want to consider another supplier for our wedding!”
“Yes, but I’ve already signed with that one. You were with me, remember? My word is my bond, Sweetheart.”
“I’m not asking you to break your word, perhaps you can renegotiate or buy out the contract. Besides, he kinda tricked us.”
“Well, he can trick us if he wants, but I refuse to stoop to his level.”
“But we’re still stuck with a sloppy supplier for our wedding! I don’t want that!”
“I don’t want that either, but you know what’s worse than that? Having a bad testimony and not being able to honor God during this process.”
“What are you saying? I’m not trying to have a bad testimony!”
“Really? Because even your attitude right now is worrisome. I think you need to go pray or something.”
And that is a summary of one of the biggest pre-wedding arguments between my wife and me. While we’ve had quite a few already that are much bigger, this is significant because of the huge lessons for both of us. We learned how to listen to each other’s concerns. We learned (a little) how to work through issues without getting emotionally riled up. In fact many of our fights follow that same pattern:
Joe wants A.
Carla wants A but she also wants B.
Joe also wants B.
So they both want the same things and they’d realize it if only they’d listen to each other.
If this was a romantic comedy we’d have the wise-cracking guy bestfriend siding with Joe the whole time. Joe would complain while they play TOPICAL SPORT OF THE DAY and his friend would make jokes about how he has it worse. Then Carla’s BFF would tell her how dumb she is for letting such a great guy like me go. Then a montage of scenes would come rushing to her mind and it would melt her ice-cold exterior. We’d run to each other while music from the popular-for-now band plays in the background.
I just saved you tons of time and money. You're welcome.
A lot of the time, for my wife and me at least, our fights are prolonged because we are better at making our points than hearing the other’s. If you believe the Bible, you’d see that it says the devil accuses us to each other, causing us to form nasty conclusions about our relationships without being aware about it.
We can beat this lie first by exposing it. Ask yourself, “Is my wife/brother/boss/friend/colleague really that bad?” When staff complain to me about their coworker or boss, I sometimes ask this question.
Once someone said, “My senior pastor didn’t approve my idea. He is stopping me from discipling students!” Really? Like that’s what he’s trying to do? Like he sees you fulfilling the Great Commission and he’s saying, “Not on my watch!” Obviously not. (And if he was, you have a bigger issue than that particular idea. You better get out of there.) You’re only disagreeing on methods and timing. Maybe he sees something you don’t see. Or maybe you haven’t helped him see what you see.
Like my wife wasn’t saying, “I know you signed that contract. I totally want you to break your word. I’m that kind of person.” And I wasn’t saying, “I want us to have a terrible wedding.” When we finally took the time to listen to each other’s positions (with some help from our secret weapon) we laughed at how common our stances were. And you and your co-fightee will too when you hear each other out.
Alright, maybe you won’t laugh. But you’ll definitely understand each other more and your relationship – whether coworker, friend, family or spouse – will be better for it.
Ever since I was a kid I’d hear people saying I look like my dad, sound like my dad, walk like my dad, preach like my dad, etc. But those close to our family know that the three of us all have our own mixes of both our parents. So while much of my external genetic material is obviously from Pop, much of my internal wiring are from my Mom. So thanks, Mom…
Thanks for teaching me to love reading.
Thanks for helping me have an omnivorous book appetite.
Thanks for telling us stories and teaching me how to tell stories.
Thanks for being a creative communicator. I think I like preaching with pictures because you’d do the same at bedtime.
Thanks for being kind and merciful. While it’s not much, the atoms of mercy inside me are definitely from you, not from… Hehe
Thanks for sacrificing for us and helping us form right priorities.
Thanks for helping me get started in ministry when you’d let us assist you in Kids Church.
Thanks for singing songs to me that reminded me of Jesus when I’d be scared.
Thanks for showing me how to make occasions special for others by making a plan for them.
Thanks for forcing us to be kind to each other, though we resisted it.
Thanks for being fun. You were just the right amount of lady and silly for three boys.
Thanks for injecting spiritual lessons in everything, from the life altering event to the mundane detail.
Thanks for taking an active part in our education, right down to fighting teachers and running for PTA.
Thanks for always making sure we had good baon, and I’m sorry for the times I’d sell it.
Thanks for letting some things slide and making a big deal about stuff we needed to hear.
Thanks for patiently bandaging our cuts, icing our bruises, and arbitrating our fights every single day.
Thanks for being a great example of learning and reinvention. Madonna has nothing on you.
Thanks for loving Carla and accepting her as your own.
Thanks for loving Pop and sticking with him through EVERYTHING.
Thanks for loving Jesus and letting Him work in and through your life.
Finally resumed my small group meeting with Marco and Ken – two high school students, one from Ateneo the other from La Salle. (To some this would already be considered a miracle. But neither are too true blue or green, so it really isn’t a big deal.) The others couldn’t make it, but it was fun catching up with them anyway.
We talked a little about Marco’s trip to China and Ken’s vacation to the US. But the lion’s share of the conversation went to the Avengers.
What else would we talk about?
I ended up giving a lot of backstory to the Marvel universe and we talked about who-would-beat-who if they fought. One thing I enjoy about campus ministry is that these tidbits of geekery aren’t completely useless.
As we got into our topic for the day – considering others better than ourselves – I was excited to see them understanding what God’s word said and how they can apply it to their own lives. It might seem shallow and inconsequential in the societal, international, cosmic scheme of things, but I know that this training will serve them well in the future. And we’ll be glad they learned it young.
Leaving the place, I remembered an old feeling that surprised me when I first went into campus ministry. After two years of doing this full-time, I found myself being a little bit more jaded when talking with teenagers about life. They’d talk about crushes, bullies, school, etc. And I would think, “Gosh, wake me when you’ve got a REAL issue.”
I realized that in my oh-so-grown-up mind, I considered my current problems more significant than theirs and it was easy to bat their concerns away with, “You think you’ve got it tough?” Part of it might have been tough love, wanting to show them there’s more to life. Part of it was selfish arrogance.
I’m thankful for my parents, my mom in particular, who never failed to relate to us at our current level of (im)maturity and relate God to that situation. “Jesus never fails, Joseph. He can help you finish your science project.” I’m thankful for disciplers like Crunchie, Mel (Bong), and Rico who taught and trained us without condescension. And I’m thankful for mentors and friends now who see how much I still lack and are patient to walk me through the process.
Sometimes what seems basic to us isn’t to others. This is especially true when working with younger people. Whether you have people like that at home, or you do it professionally as a campus missionary, teacher, coach, or tutor, or you volunteer in working with kids and students, let’s fight the temptation to jump ahead of their development. Instead, let’s walk alongside them and coach them. No issue is too big for God to get involved in, but no issue is too SMALL either. If they develop this muscle of faith in Him early on, they’ll be mighty later on. Like the Avengers.