You know that feeling you get when you gobble down a giant bowl of vanilla ice cream at a party and then wash it down with a tall glass of ice cold lemonade? Yuck ! I don’t either, but I can imagine that it would make my stomach churn as my body attacks the curdled, sour milk like a sworn enemy. At the very least, I’m sure the combination would cause a bit of nausea and some clammy skin. You know, the very same way we feel when someone says, “Uh…we need to talk.”
I hear those words, and I immediately feel sick to my stomach. Maybe it is the introvert or the people-pleaser in me, but I rarely think anything good will come of having a heart-to-heart with someone who “needs to talk” with me. And the closer that person is to me – the more they know my innermost weaknesses and struggles – the more nauseous I feel. I think What did I do wrong this time? How did I mess up again?!
As a young adult at a church retreat, I distinctly recall my pastor warning the boys and the girls about the dormitory rules. “Girls are pink,” he said, “and boys are blue. No making purple!” We all laughed a bit, but we took the message to heart. This same idea about “making purple” resurfaced when my husband and I studied a fantastic book about marriage called Love and Respect. Author Dr. Emerson Eggerichs set forth the idea that men talk in blue and hear in blue while women talk in pink and hear in pink. Thus, when we attempt to have one of those “need to talk” conversations, we “make purple” and our communication becomes dangerously flawed. In fact, this concept applies to any relationship and to any conversation.
To guard against this, Eggerichs suggests that we remember one very important truth: our loved one only wants the best for us. While we might feel unloved by our spouse’s words or actions, the intention in communicating one-on-one is nothing but good. And you know what? Keeping that truth at the forefront of my mind during these anxiety-ridden conversations, whether with my spouse or with another important person in my life, has taught me so much more. By trusting that these friends are truly speaking in love, their words and actions no longer become threats, remonstrances, or degrading finger-pointing moments. In fact, I am able to humble myself and use their words to transform my own thoughts and actions.
Think about it this way: In Chesapeake Shores’ “Once Upon Ever After,” Jess girlishly tosses tennis balls at David’s window to get his attention. While we as an audience know that she simply misses him and wants a bit of his time, if we put ourselves in David’s shoes, we know it would be easy to become irritated and frustrated with her interruption. I can see myself muttering under my breath, “You’re going to break the window…I said I’d be down when I’m finished.” However, with that attitude, I would be missing out on the message Jess really intended to share – and losing a wonderful opportunity to connect with a very special person.
By slowing down our thoughts and reactions when someone “needs to talk” with us, we open up an opportunity for personal growth and transformation. Often, others see things that we do not. By remaining open to their perspective and trusting that their love for us is their motivation, we can see the truth in their words – even if those words don’t sound pleasing to us.
When Trace and Abby’s idyllic romance hit a rough patch because of the paparazzi snapping photos of the girls, Trace was so busy that he didn’t really have time to discuss the issue. When he didn’t know how to react or respond to Abby’s concern, we could see how distraught Abby became, questioning Trace’s ability to protect and love her. When, in last week’s episode, Trace hopped on a plane to speak with Abby face-to-face, their talk transformed them both. Comfort and understanding replaced Trace’s loneliness and longing for Abby, and Abby went from feeling hopeless to hopeful about their relationship. Abby could have remained distant and upset that Trace hadn’t made time for her at the moment she felt she needed it, but instead she chose to believe he wanted the best for her and she listened to him.
After her injury at work, Sarah wrapped herself in a wave of euphoria, riding it out by running and skydiving. She really didn’t want to talk with Kevin for fear that opening up her bottled emotions would hurt too much. Kevin knew, however, that he could see something she couldn’t. In slowing down her actions and stopping to truly listen to Kevin’s heartfelt words to her, Sarah began running towards love instead of running away from death.
Even Connor, the character who seems the least likely to open up and share his feelings, experienced a small amount of transformation in his relationship with his father. When most of their talks have always been discolored and murky, Connor clears the air simply by reminding Mick that no one was around to teach him about sailing. While not a deep conversation by any means, a few simple words of “No one was there to teach me” and “I’m sorry” allowed Connor to stop feeding the fire of anger. By trusting that Mick truly was sorry, and that he really did want to restore their relationship, Connor was able to share just a morsel of forgiveness.
Yes, although these characters are fictional and live in an idyllic town surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in creation, they are still constructed of similar ideals and flaws as the people we encounter every day. Perhaps, if we can learn to stop “making purple” out of the words we hear from those we love – if we can trust that their love is true and their intentions are good – we can experience our own little bit of transformation, too. After all, as Nell reminded us, “Love is a spark that creates a fire – you have to tend it, nurture it, give it room to grow.” That means trusting that the love is there, whether the words reflect it or not.