So, we've just spent the last few days at the N.A.M.E. Conference ... the National Association of Marriage Enrichment. What an incredible opportunity to be involved in such a great event! My husband was the guest soloist, but we were encouraged to participate in all the sessions and take advantage of the teaching as well. Now, I knew that I was going to the marriage conference, but I remembered that my husband might just be 'going to work'. (see previous post ... We went to a Wedding) It turns out that we both enjoyed some seminars, and meeting and getting to know some of the teachers and leaders. Some of the ones we thoroughly enjoyed were Dr. Tim Clinton, director of The American Association of Christian Counsellors (I ordered several of this books!), Pastors Rick and Judy Hilsden, former Ontario District Superintendent of the PAOC and now pastors of The Park Church in Sherwood Park, AB and Phil and Cindy Waugh, Executive Directors of Covenant Marriage Movement.
One particular moment that stood out in my mind was in a session about Effective and Ineffective Communication led by Phil and Cindy Waugh. They were the explaining the concept of "Messaging to be understood and Listening to Understand". Part of communicating this way with your spouse involves "mirroring". When not in agreement, the one spouse responds with, "what I hear you say is ....." and once the concept is completely understood, the other spouse says, "that makes me feel ....". I leaned over to my husband and asked him if he remembered when we had first heard that concept. He did.
We were singing at The Park Church in April 2008. During the Sunday morning service, Pastor Rick was speaking about marriage. I remember a lot of his message because he was very funny, but mostly because of this: you see, in August of 2007 Rick suffered a heart attack and then, a few days later, an acute stroke. He wasn't expected to live. It was soon realized that the part of his brain that had been affected by the stroke was his "communication department". As a pastor, this is his most precious gift! With the help of his wife, he has continued to pastor a growing, thriving, large church. To see Rick now, you wouldn't know that he had been ill, but once he begins to speak there is a hesitation and stumbling over words. During the morning in April when Rick was speaking about marriage, he began to explain the concept of "mirroring" ... "what I hear you say is ...." and "that makes me feel ...". He had barely begun to explain the concept when his words began to get very muddled. He tried a couple times to straighten them out and just couldn't get his thoughts out. Quietly, his wife Judy left her seat in the front row, walked up to the platform, took a mic and explained the concept beautifully while Rick stepped back and took a few deep breaths before he was ready to begin again. Then, Judy just stepped back down to her seat in the front row. The picture of that has been embedded in my mind. Two people working as one. Neither one looking for attention. Simply working together to accomplish a purpose. The concept has stayed with me and I've shared it with several friends, but even more poignant was the relationship between Rick and Judy. Truly they are an inspiration!!
So, not only have we been surrounded by great teaching, but we have been inspired by other marriages in action.