We were the only ones there. We talked as we walked. It was probably more of an amble than a walk, as we made our way through the walled gardens, down the paths, close to the lakes and around the grand house and gardens that is Castle Howard. Last time I was there was a warmer summer’s day and there were people everywhere. This time the day was dull, damp and grey – and if was just us. No-one else. We met nobody yesterday afternoon. Not one. As we talked.
We talked about all sorts of things. Things going on in our lives. Things that troubled us. Things that were good. Things we appreciated. Things coming up. As BT used to say in their ads, ‘It’s good to talk’.
Talking – and listening – is one of the main ways we invest in relationships. Just by talking. Most relationships start to crumble when people stop talking. I was reminded of that last night at Jamie Oliver’s in York. We were there to celebrate a lot of family birthdays that all come very close at this time of year. There was a selection of music playing from the 60s to now, but the song that stood out as we talked and ate was Cliff Richard’s It’s so Funny that we don’t Talk Anymore. It reminded me that not talking is the beginning of the end of a relationship. So if you want a relationship to thrive – talk!
There are all sorts of things you can talk about. Telling stories of people and places and pressures and priorities and passions. You can be funny or serious. You can be eloquent or stumble over your words. You can be brief or long-winded. But in all this, tell the truth.
Don’t lie (Colossians 3:9). Don’t make yourself out to be better (or worse) than you are. Don’t exaggerate and make someone look stupid who isn’t. Don’t say something is, that isn’t. Or that you’ve done something when you haven’t.
I was reminded of that this week when talking with someone who is struggling in their marriage. Amongst other things he’d lied to his wife. He’d told her something that simply wasn’t true. He’d done it for what he thought were good reasons. And of course she found out. And then the good reasons didn’t seem like very good reasons because trust had been destroyed. That trust could possibly be regained, but trust doesn’t just return overnight. Trust is built over time. Lies destroy trust. And trust is at the heart of healthy relationships.
So tell the truth. Every time. Never lie. And enjoy talking. Chatting. Listening. Encouraging. With laughter and humour. It’s good to talk.
All this equally applies with our relationship with God, which also requires talking. It’s what we call prayer. We can’t hope to have a great relationship with God if we don’t talk anymore (Philippians 4:6-7). And like all human relationships it only works if we tell the truth. If we’re ourselves. No pretence. No covering up. So don’t lie to God.