Friends wanted, mind reading may be required.

I often talk to young single women about their hopes of falling in love and getting married. I like to ask them what sort of man they are looking for, I find the answers so interesting and revealing.

Amongst the diversity of answers is a very common concept of finding a man “who finishes my sentences”. It’s the ideal that relationships entail so much closeness, intimacy and deep knowing that you no longer need to talk, “we will just know what the other is thinking”.

This idea is not restricted to romance and marriage. I talk to multitudes of people who basically expect this same thing from all their relationships. Several years ago I was talking to a woman who felt deeply hurt by the missions community I served with. She relayed a list of offences. Amongst them was that, “no one has visited me at my home”, “I had a baby, felt so depressed and no one asked me how I was coping”, and “I never get invited out with other women”. Her pain was real and I knew the most caring thing was to simply listen and show care. I likely didn’t know the whole story. But, as I listened, it seemed that everything she listed involved a superpower that I rarely see: mind reading.

In romance, friendship, family, parenting, and churches it seems that we expect that true love and true relationship involves mind reading.

The rule-book we are living by is this: If people truly love me, they will be able to know what I want without me having to express it. If I have to ask for help/care/friendship/assistance/companionship then it’s not real. People should just know what I need, when I need it.

We do this in our marriages, don’t we? I walk in the house with slumped shoulders and eyes to the ground. I walk to my room, lay on my bed, sigh loudly and wait. My husband carries on with whatever he is doing, completely “ignoring” my obviously distressed state! I get more and more annoyed at his disregard to my emotions. We’ve been married for 11 years, he should know when I need support and care! If I have to ask for it then that just feels that he doesn’t truly know me or love me.

The problem is that Jesus models the complete opposite. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus was at an emotional low, his death was imminent. Mark says that he was “distressed and aggravated” and that he “threw himself on the ground” to pray. His friends should have seen and known that he needed help. It should have been obvious to all that something was wrong. What does Jesus do? He asks for help. Once. Twice. Three times.

Jesus shows us that healthy and whole people ask for the help they need. We can’t expect people to read minds (they can’t). We can’t hope they see the “signs” (obvious to us but not them). Relationships are not more real if we can finish each others sentences.

Stating how you are doing is not asking for help. Saying, “I sure am struggling” is not asking for help. Telling your husband you had a bad day is not asking for help. Telling a friend that you are exhausted from the newborn phase is not asking for help. We often think it is, but it’s not. There is still a lot of mind reading required to figure out what is actually wanted based on how you are doing.

What should I do on my bad day? Walk in the house, go to my husband and say, “I’ve had a terrible day, I was hoping you could sit and listen so I could talk it through… could we do that?”

For any and all relationships to actually work, real communication has to happen. How are you doing in being like Jesus and communicating what you need? Do it once, twice, three times… or every time for that matter!