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The Lost Art of Conversation



I always find it curious... the paths the Lord leads me down on any given day...

And so it was this past week while catching up on my Twitter feed that I saw a tweet about a devotional that looked timely for this season of my life.  Researching the title, I discovered I could get a Kindle version of the book, but would need to download the Kindle app to my Iphone.  I was hesitant at first, but had read another blog post the week before that inspired me to read more books. One of the suggestions for accomplishing this was to download the Kindle app to your cellphone allowing for more opportunities to read at random times when you ordinarily couldn't unless you were in the habit of always carrying a hardcover book around with you.  {And I must say, I am an avid hardcover supporter.  I LOVE holding a book and seeing how many pages I've turned.  Yes, I am very results oriented!  So this was a tough sell for me! lol}  I took the leap and downloaded the Kindle app.   It was then that I began to discover the vast amount of books contained within the Kindle app.  In my excitement, I thought about all the books I always wanted to read, but never got around to.   (Yes, I admit I have never read, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, etc., etc...)  Searching enthusiastically, I began downloading the classics on my "bucket list".  The first book on my list to read, Pride and Prejudice!  {You may be wondering why the Lord would lead me to read a classic like Pride and Prejudice.  A lesson in the area of the tongue would be the product of this endeavor.}

At first it took me a bit to become accustomed to the dialogue of the time period for the storyline of Pride and Prejudice, but I am now thoroughly enjoying it!   So far, I have read through Chapter 14 where the author's main focus has been on the conversation between the characters which I found a very interesting approach and was surprised by how drawn in I became!  

In pondering the characters manner of speaking which conversations were eloquent in delivery, but held like a sport, I did some research about Victorian conversation, and was quite fascinated with what I discovered on a website called Victorian Etiquette...

"To be an excellent conversationalist is a very desirable accomplishment.  We talk more than we do anything else.  By conversation we may make friends, we may retain them, or we may lose them.   We may impart information; we may acquire it.   We may make the company with whom we associate contented with itself, or we can sow disharmony and discord.  Our success in life largely rests upon our ability to converse well; therefore the necessity of our carefully studying what should and should not be said when talking."

"How to please in conversation.
  • Be cool, collected and self-possessed, using respectful, chaste and appropriate language.
  • Always defend the absent person who is being spoken of, as far as truth and justice will permit."
  • Beware of talking much about yourself.  Your merits will be discovered in due time without the necessity of sounding your own praises.
  • Recollect that the object of conversation is to entertain and amuse; the social gathering, therefore, should not be made the arena of dispute.  Even slight mistakes and inaccuracies it is well to overlook, rather than to allow inharmony to present itself."
  • Aim to adapt your conversation to those with whom you are conversing.  Be careful that you do not undervalue them.  It is possible that they are as intelligent as yourself, and their conversation, can, perhaps, take as wide a range as your own.
  • Remember that people are fond of talking of their own affairs.  The mother likes to talk of her children, the mechanic of his workmanship, the laborer of what he can accomplish.  Give everyone opportunity, and you will gain much valuable information besides being thought courteous and well-bred."
"What to avoid in conversation.
  • Do not manifest impatience.
  • Do not engage in argument.
  • Do not interrupt another when speaking.
  • Do not find fault, although you may gently criticize.
  • Do not talk of your private, personal and family matters.
  • Do not appear to notice inaccuracies of speech in others."
These are just some highlights from the webpage.  I encourage you to read more about Victorian conversation etiquette here if you have a fascination with that time period.  It really is quite entertaining! 

As I read the Victorian rules of conversation, which in many instances mirror commands found in Scripture concerning conversation and the tongue, it saddened me to think that in an age of texting, emailing and social media, meaningful conversations are no longer commonplace.  Civility and respect can be lost through misinterpretation of faceless words, and speaking to each other on the phone or in person is an inconvenience compared to a quick text...

We find ourselves in an age of fast and dazzling information which onslaughts us from every direction training our minds to be easily distracted and unable to sit for long periods of time to focus on one thing.  Sadly, many churches have shortened their sermons for this very reason.  As a result, even our actual face to face conversations suffer.

Several of my pet peeves surround situations I've experienced in my own conversations with others. First on my conversation pet peeve list, talking to someone who is just looking around or over my shoulder, KNOWING they are not at all interested in what I'm saying to the point that I end up just trailing off...  Second, when people talk over me like I'm not even there, let alone the fact that I was already speaking!  Lastly, when a person interrupts me over and over again to the point that I forget what I am saying!

But sadly, I can be guilty of these very things!  

I was quite taken by the quote I recorded earlier of how people are "fond of talking about their own affairs such as children or work".   

I was convicted because too often I will "tune a person out", if they are telling me another story related to something they repeatedly talk about.    Husbands especially are wired to be respected and valued for their work.  It is important to be a genuine and intentional participant in a conversation when our husbands tell us about their day at work.  And, of course, we also have those things we are fond of that we love to talk about.  I know I appreciate it when someone is genuinely interested in hearing about what matters to me.  How much more should I show the same respect to them.

Just this week, I came upon a painting of a cozy scene, probably set in the early 1900s, of a family sitting around the fireplace; mother sewing a quilt which lay on her lap; father sitting with the paper, and child on the floor with a toy; all of them looking at each other in a conversational way.  I crawled into that picture!  I imagined what they were talking about; what a closeness they must share, intentionally talking with one another, learning from one another, enjoying one another, loving one another...

You shall teach {these Words of mine} to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise.
Deuteronomy 11:19

I fear husbands, wives, children, and families struggle to hold meaningful conversations due to the many modern day distractions from countless activities, cellphones, internet, and social media. How fulfilling and enriched our daily lives would be if we intentionally took part in the art of conversation...

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The King James Dictionary definition of "conversation" says: 

"This word is another illustration which time makes in a living language.  The modern sense of the word is mutual talk, colloquy, but in the King James Version it never means that, but always behavior, conduct.  This broader meaning, at a time not much later than the date of the King James Version, began to yield to the special, limited one of today, perhaps as has been suggested, because speech forms so large a part of conduct."  

Indeed, the tongue is such a powerful member of our bodies.  It can build up, tear down, or by it's very silence, break hearts...

He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from trouble.  
Proverbs 21:23

For the one who desires life, to love and see good days, and yet does not bridle his tongue,  must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.
1 Peter 3:10

So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.  See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!  
James 35

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless.  
James 1:26

One of the ways we tear others down is through gossip.  I may be mistaken, but I think as women we can fall prey to gossip more easily, and even justify it!   Participating in gossip destroys our own character.

A friend of mine has a painting which is called "The Gossip".  As my friend and I studied the painting, it was interesting to note how the artist portrayed the two women.  Dressed in finery from the late 1800s, sitting at a table, leaning in close toward one another, appearing to not want to miss a word of what was said; savoring every morsel...  A very sad, but true depiction...

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Our great God has given us His Word, Wonderful Words of Life.  Oh that our conduct and conversation would mirror the Scriptures.  Let our "fondness for talking of our own affairs" primarily be the affairs of God!  Let us speak Life into those we come in contact with.  Let us speak with humility and respect.  Let our speech be intentional and genuine.  Let us think others better than ourselves.   

Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, 
so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
Colossians 4:6

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29


And above all let our conversations be filled with Praise, Glory and Honor to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

From the rising of the sun, to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!
Psalm 113:3

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Comments

  1. This was quite interesting, Karen. You skillfully wove scriptures and truth into your writing.

    I, too, was hesitant about the Kindle App. I actually bought a Kindle Touch, too. It was the first piece of electronic technology that I ever purchased. It took me a month or two to choose what I wished to purchase.

    What I have found with the App is that I can use odd moments to digest long books. That's how I've read most of Trim Healthy Mama, a 600+ page book.

    I enjoy the music on your blog very much. I wish I could copy some of your songs and install on my blog, too. ~smile~

    I don't get back to blog posts to check for responses to comments I leave. If you'd like to respond, please do so by e-mail.

    lauraofharvestlane at gmail dot com

    Blessings from Harvest Lane Cottage,
    Laura

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Laura,

      Thank you for all your kind and thoughtful words! They mean so much!

      Blessings,

      Karen

      :-)

      Delete
  2. This is really great ! I am going to post this on King Maker blog facebook page and read it to my children tomorrow.Such needed and good reminders!

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    Replies
    1. Leticia, Thank you so much. Praising God for His leading as I write. :-)

      Blessings,
      Karen

      Delete
  3. Your first line about having a pleasing conversation really fits perfectly into my post. Whether it is to someone else or ourselves we should be respectful in our conservation and speak life.

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    Replies
    1. Lenae, I read several blog posts this week about conversation. Apparently, the Lord has a lesson for us all to that end. :-)

      :-)

      Blessings,

      Karen

      Delete
  4. This post is impressive! I have loved Pride and Prejudice for years but I sure would never have drawn these conclusions. Great thoughts!

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    Replies
    1. Carol,

      Thank you very much!

      Giving God all the praise for those conclusions. :-)

      Blessings,
      Karen

      Delete
  5. What a beautiful, edifying post! I so appreciate the gentle reminder to guard our tongues. I pray every, single day that God will set a guard at the gate of my lips, yet, how often I override that Guard and go ahead and utter impatience when I am perturbed, etc. God help me! I truly appreciated reading this and am so thankful for your gentle reproof. God bless you, sweet friend. :)

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    Replies
    1. Cheryl, Thank you!

      The Lord has been bringing my own post to mind all this week as I struggle a lot with "truly listening".

      Blessings to you to my friend! :-)

      Karen

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  6. Uplifting, informative, and encouraging! Blessed to be next to you at Holly Barrett's today! (#63)

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  7. Oh how I loved reading this! I found some places I need to implement or delete in my life. I sat for a while, just listening to your music.

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    Replies
    1. Pamela, Thank you so much.

      Yes, the Lord has definitely been using my own post throughout the week to remind me of the areas where I am not using my tongue as I am called to as a child of God.

      Thanks for visiting! :-)

      Delete
  8. I loved this. I need to make sure that I am guarding my tongue when I talk to people and make sure that the words that I speak are edifying and give grace to the hearer.

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    1. Tona,

      Thank you.

      The Lord definitely has many verses regarding our speech and the tongue. He knows our weaknesses and provides help to obey.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  9. I love your search of Victorian conversation and how you connected it to today. Meaningful and intentional conversation with others is so important. I learned the beauty of this over the weekend at a retreat with a group of women. Thank you for sharing at The Weekend Brew.

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    1. Mary,
      Thank you.

      Ahh! Ladies retreats are always so spiritually recharging. Glad you were blessed there.

      Thanks for stopping by. 😊

      Delete
  10. Hello Karen, being a long while I visited. No thanks to a blank laptop. But thank God I am on a short break now.
    How Have you been?

    Thank you so much for shedding light on this conversational tips. Meaningfully connecting with people makes a difference especially through our conversation. The scriptures made it all come together.

    God Bless Karen

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    Replies
    1. Ifeoma, So nice to hear from you! Glad you are enjoying a short break. :-) And I hope your laptop comes back to it's full operating ability soon. Doing anything special on your break?

      I am doing well. Just enjoyed a couple weeks off from work to spend lots of time with my new precious granddaughter. :-)

      The Lord certainly has answers in Scripture for all aspects of life.
      :-)

      Blessings to you my friend.


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  11. What a fascinating post. I wish more people followed those Victorian rules of conversation. I think we would have a much more civilized society. Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I'm glad I found this post in return! You gave me some food for thought. :)

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    1. I know! I found it all so interesting! I think you are absolutely right about a more civilized society.

      It was a pleasure to come by and visit you. :-)

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete

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