I recently stayed overnight in a typical British guesthouse where breakfast was an interesting experience. Not because of the food, service or facilities, but due to the interesting social interaction – or lack thereof.
In a small dining room where guests sat at separate but adjacent tables, conversation was curiously stilted, as people were aware that their private discussions were being overheard. A men’s football team tried to joke with each other about the previous night’s escapades without incurring the scorn of other guests. A harassed father tried hard to keep his disobedient toddler under control without losing his temper. A browbeaten woman took the opportunity to chide her husband at a time when he couldn’t answer her back.
It occurred to me that often conversations between mission partners can be similar. We often refrain from saying the things that we’d really like to because we are aware that others are listening. We don’t like to disagree in case we sow the seeds of dissent, or act as a bad witness in front of others. So we bottle up the things we’d really like to say, and if we don’t blurt them out in a fit of self-indulgence they can build up inside us to such a point of frustration that they contribute significantly to our levels of stress.