Three weeks ago my friend, Nick Richtsmeier and I began The Convos – a conversation on Facebook (about the worst place to have a conversation) based on our belief that conversations make us and break us.

This week we talked about Thanksgiving table talk, gun violence, trolls, the “love zone,” the Orlando nightclub shooting, and changing the conversation to stretch the tent to be wide enough for all of us.

You can listen at

During our conversation I anticipated my family’s Thanksgiving convo.

My daughter would talk about the recent shooting near her neighborhood involving five people and express her exasperation at political gridlock with regard to the growing shameful legacy in our country of one mass shooting after another.

My son would talk about “identity politics,” and how everyone’s need to defend their issue is contributing to the lack of much being accomplished in the halls of our government.

My sweet mom might murmur something like, “We’re not going to like it when we have socialism in this country.”

And my dad would say, “Let’s pray.”

Well, that isn’t what happened at all.

My daughter expressed gratitude to everyone for coming to the hospital after a car accident in March and told us that was the time when she felt the most loved.

My son shared that he is finding peace and respite these days in some good books.

My mom cried a little as she recalled the selfless love of her parents who adopted her as an infant and always made her feel like they had just won the lottery when they got her (they did!)

My dad said that if money wasn’t an issue, he’d travel the world – even though he’s 84 years old. He gave thanks for being cancer-free for three years and his voice wobbled a bit as he read a poem that his mother wrote over thirty years ago about giving thanks for everyday blessings.

I marveled at my privilege to simply be with my people and was reminded that we don’t feel love when we are informed. We feel loved when we are accepted, listened to, vulnerable, and undefended.

I left that evening hungry for more conversation.

How did you leave your Thanksgiving table?

Did you feel like Jesus might love you more if you didn’t have flaws, foibles, or unpopular opinions?

Did you venture out on Black Friday, only to be cut off in traffic, flipped off, and left steeping in shame when you didn’t do anything wrong?

Did you trust and feel trusted by the people you were with?

If we don’t learn to trust anyone (even ourselves), then we will not experience love.

Did you spend the  day wanting to hide from your parents, your children, your spouse, your friends?

Did you wear a pretty great mask, get lots of accolades, and still felt empty because you knew people just loved the mask – not the real you?

Then maybe you need a good conversation.

A conversation where you really talk and really listen.

A conversation that embraces flaws, foibles, and unpopular opinions.

A conversation that breaks the barriers of shame with shared humanness.

A conversation that is unmasked, undefended, and so it’s trustworthy.

“What if there is a [conversation] that is so safe that the worst of me could be known, and I would discover that I would not be loved less but more in the telling of it?” John Lynch, The Cure

Maybe the conversation we are seeking is seeking us . . .

From a friend who has a big mouth and is always spouting their political sound bites to cover their lonely hearts.

From a child who says they are too busy to talk, too cynical to go to church, too consumed with finding the “right” picture to post on social media.

From a parent who is wondering if they have anything relevant to say.

From a co-worker who has $48 in the bank and orthodontics bills and a gas tank on empty.

Be the change in the conversations you have this week.

Don’t expect to be unwaveringly brave or endlessly compassionate or to always have the right response.

Just be with people.

“Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady keep a firm grip on you.” Isaiah 41:10