Friday, June 20, 2014

What Big Families and Mission Trips Have in Common

You call a family meeting. Everyone makes it except a few people who are either in the bathroom, didn’t hear the call, or are so intent on their work they don’t notice everyone else is somewhere else.

You give the information, outlining the details in as clear and concise a way as possible.

You break from the meeting.

30 minutes later, one member of the team (or family) approaches you and asks for the information that you just gave. You realize this member must have missed the meeting so you inform them of what you just informed everyone else.

It’s all well and good until someone else approaches you. This person you remember was actually at the meeting. You realize their mind must have been focused on other things, so you inform them—again—of what they need to know.

On other occasions, there isn’t time to call a meeting, or half of your family (or team) is missing so they wouldn’t hear the info anyway. So you pass it on to as many people as possible, telling them to spread the word.

Then you encounter the half that was missing when you informed the other half and they have no idea what’s going on.

In order to be extra thorough in your communication next time, you approach as many of the members as you can, looking them directly in the eyes and giving them very thorough information.

However, you miss one because they are away, or they’re sick, or they are on the phone when you were making your rounds. You think, “surely someone will let them know about dinner tomorrow night.”

Then dinner comes and said someone doesn’t show up and is offended that nobody invited him.

When you’re with a large group of people, no matter how much effort you put into communicating with every person, at some point, communication breaks down. Either one person doesn’t get the memo or that person got the memo but failed to absorb the information.

You simply can’t win.

The only thing to do is—like mama says—your absolute best. The rest is up to circumstances that are often very funny if you set your mind to “this is hysterical” mode instead of “I am so annoyed right now” mode.

Then again, maybe you can win. It all has to do with perspective. If you learn anything in a big family, it’s that laughter has a very real place in every day life. This spills over into short term teams, work teams, or any other sort of large-group setting. If you’re the one in charge of the communicating, roll with the punches and don’t get annoyed when things break down.

If you’re the one receiving the communication, realize that more often than not people are putting some effort into letting you know what’s happening. If you get left off the list or don’t get the message, it's very likely that you got lost in the shuffle and that happens occasionally (i.e. frequently) with a large group of people.

Also in a large family, you learn how to make yourself heard, even if people don’t want to hear you. You learn how to grab someone (literally) by the arm, corner them in their office, and refuse to leave until they have coughed up what’s necessary for progress. You learn this skill when your sister borrows your black dress and no matter how many times you ask for it back, it never seems to end up in your closet. If you want the dress, you have to take it. Or you have to let it go. No relationship is worth a black dress, though sometimes the dress is very sexy so you have to think about that loss of relationship for a minute.

In all such situations, potential for frustration is great, but potential for moments of hilarity is greater.

So laugh, enjoy relationship, and keep a lock on your closet door.

It’s a much better way to live.

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