Conversational Projectiles and Control

You can learn a lot about a person by how he conducts a conversation, especially in a group.

I imagine it as a game of catch.  I try to get everyone involved in the game.

But we all know that one person—the ball hog—who catches every conversational projectile thrown near him without offering anything in return.  Even worse, he plays catch with himself, meandering from one story to the next.

Why does this happen?  What is the ball hog worried about?

Well, receiving a conversational projectile grants power. All others are attentive to him for that moment.  My guess is that he doesn’t want to give up the power of attention once he has it.  This might be due to an insecurity or unsatisfied need.  Maybe it’s subconscious: “If I throw this ball to someone else, I might never get it back…”

It’s awkward trying to catch a ball that a person’s throwing to himself, so I don’t do it.  I let them juggle.  Maybe that’s what they need in that moment.

But I wish they could trust that everyone else is on their team, and occasionally throw back to us. Then we could show we are willing to keep engaging with them, in spite of any anxiety they may feel.

I think this situation is mirrored in our relationships with God.

Each of us is tempted to become a ball hog. We are terrified about giving God too much control over our lives. We want God to give us every gift and attend to our every need, like a genie.

But if we can actually surrender some of this control over our lives, we find that God doesn’t squirrel it away for himself and leave us empty-handed. He throws back to us more than we ever expected to receive. But God can only do this if we keep throwing the ball back to Him.

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