I have a friend who has had many interesting life experiences, as have her children. I know this because any time I mention anything that happened to me, she immediately relates at least three of her own that might be remotely connected to mine.
She has great stories, without a doubt. But it’s hard to socialize with her because as I open my mouth to say something her words jump ahead of mine and take over the conversation. When she finishes a story, she will sometimes ask, “So how is your family?”
I’ve learned not to say, “Fine,” because that lets her start a story about some drama or cute anecdote from her own family. If I quickly say, “Well, let me tell you about what happened to…,” she will listen for a couple sentences. Then I might say, “And when we got to the emergency room,” which gives her the opportunity to tell her own emergency room story from some years ago.
Occasionally I will assert myself and say, “But let me finish this story,” and she will. I believe she has no idea that she leaps into every conversation and shanghaies it to her own purposes. I have no idea if she is threatened by silence because I’ve never experienced any silence—nay, not even a long pause—when with her.
I see myself there as well. I love to tell about something that’s happened to me or someone I know. So many of my stories are simply fascinating! Give me a chance and you’ll find out. 😉
I’m reminded of a prayer by Margot Benary-Isbert. Among other insightful things, she says:
Lord, you know better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.
May I remember that I should be “quick to listen and slow to speak.” James got it right, chapter 1, verse 19. Maybe I should remind myself of that when I’m with my friend. It’s my responsibility as well as hers.