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Link to Listen - Part 2

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

Scribbles and Right-ness - Can We Win?


Last week, we talked about opinions. We also talked about molasses and butter and how God’s love leads us to reconciliation with others. We learned sometimes our first step towards loving others is listening. If you didn't catch it, go back and do a quick read. It's worth it.


Today, we’re going to unpack this a bit further. Because it’s one thing to say it, and it’s an entirely other thing to do it.


I’ll be the first to tell ya, I’m not very good at it. I have to work at it every day.


Maybe you can relate.

Have you ever found yourself upset, perhaps even fuming, over something that is actually pretty small when you step back for a second?


Maybe someone loaded the dishwasher the wrong way. After all, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. Don't act like you don't know. All those in favor of silverware pointing up, say "I." All those in favor of silverware pointing down, say "I.


There you go, the I's have it!


I once heard someone share how this simple task grew slowly but steadily over the years and resulted in a blow-up argument in his house.


I can't judge. Although I've never become heated over dish ware, I have let my opinions be known in a sharp tone over cleaning the dish before loading in the dishwasher. I'm one of those who sees the dishwasher as a sanitizer, not a full force maid service. Either way, not our finest moments.


I've even witnessed an argument over fried chicken. Not even kidding. Fried chicken, y'all. Truth be told, the argument was never really about poultry or deciding what to have for dinner. If you pull back the layers, it was about love and respect.


Oh and don't even get us started on road rage. How could someone drive like that?! I don't know why they're even able to carry a license! Have those words ever come out of your mouth?

So funny story - I once had a friend who was driving me home from the airport. Unfamiliar with the traffic patterns near my house, she accidentally turned from the stop light into the wrong lane. In doing this, she accidentally, and completely unbeknownst to her, cut someone off. That someone pulled up next to us and let us hear it.


Well, let me hear it. She rolled down her window and screamed all kinds of foul words. But the thing is, I was the only one who noticed. The battery in my friend's hearing aid had gone out, and although she could hear me sitting next to her, she could not hear the foggy foul words directed her way.


I sat in the passenger seat, biting my lip trying not to laugh, resolved to not look towards the other car. Thinking, if I don't make eye contact, maybe the light will turn green and we can drive off from this mistake without getting run off the road. Maybe...



Regardless of the location or the topic, when we feel that someone else is wrong, our tendency is to speak or act.


We immediately jump to correct, to prove the other wrong, to give our opinion, to give our advice, to show our right-ness.

Gulp.


We become so focused on being right, that our thoughts are consumed with our right-ness. We push and push and push our right-ness on others so relentlessly that we end up pushing them...


...out.

We feel superior, after all we've won! We start our inner victory chant, "Yessssss! I've won, I've won!" Then all of a sudden, we look around and wonder, "Where'd they all go?"

Our right-ness came first - before the relationship, before their thoughts, before valuing them as a human being. They're gone - gone from the room, the relationship, the team, the company, the church.


So did I really win?


The Struggle is Real

Is it possible to be right and win at the same time? Can the two coexist?


That's the question we'll try to answer. It's a question our communities, our country and our world is struggling with.

Quick visual about struggling - As a kindergarten teacher, I was trying to teach my new class how to walk in a line quietly down the hall. Before walking out of the classroom, I told them, "Now class, I want to see bubbles and ducktails all the way down the hall. It will help us keep our mouths quiet and our hands to ourselves. We've really been struggling with this lately and I believe we can do better."

One of my sweet girls raised her hand and asked, "Umm, Miss Cofer, what is struggling? Is that kinda like scribbling?"


In a way, it is. We're scribbling all over - forget the page, we're on the table. We're clumsy in how we hold the crayon - how we use our words - and even if we've been taught how to hold it correctly, we're in a hurry. We don't give the page - or our neighbors - the time they deserve. There's no rhyme or order, no respect for boundaries, no thought for self-control, just chaos.


How do we get back on track?



James teaches us to,


...be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to become angry... - James 1:19

Before with the dishes and the chicken and the road rage, we were quick to speak, quick to become angry and slow or perhaps disinterested or unable to hear. If we change this and make our first response listening, we'll develop the discipline of learning and understanding.

Because the thing is, we all make sense in our own minds. We need to take the time to understand their perspective. Why does this make sense to them? We may find ourselves empathizing and even replacing judgement with compassion.


How Do We Press the Brakes?

Ya know, becoming slow with our words is a lot like driving. It's a lot easier to stop suddenly when we're going 20 mph rather than 75. Same is true for frustration and anger. If we slow down, develop the discipline of being quick to listen and slow to speak, we'll have more time to process.

We'll use the time we previously used for speaking, now as our turn to ask sincere questions. We'll gain greater perspective, and most importantly, we're focused on the other person, not ourselves! When we're quick to speak, we're only thinking of how right we are and how not right they are.

So how do we do this? How do we change something that is as second nature to us as breathing? Well, first, I think we pray and we ask the Holy Spirit to guard our tongues. We see David, a strong leader and King, pray for this, too. He asked,


May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. - Psalm 19:14

I love that he prays to Jesus as his Lord, his Rock, and his Redeemer.


Lord, by definition, means that someone has power, authority and influence over you.


Rock highlights the solidity of Jesus. We can lean on Him. If we stand on His word and His truth, we will not fall.


Redeemer showcases Him as our rescuer. What is He rescuing us from? Ourselves! Our own words trap and tangle us.


To paraphrase, he's praying, Jesus, let the words I speak and the wonderings of my heart glorify you. I surrender these to You and ask You to have authority over my words. I lean on You and stand upon your truth, today. Help me, Jesus, rescue my words from my selfish thoughts and change them to be selfless and life-giving, pointing others to You.



Listening to Learn

Next, we need to cultivate wonder. Rather than jumping to judgement, let’s choose a new path of wonder.

I wonder why this is so important to them? I wonder what they’ve endured that has shaped this belief or attitude within them? I wonder how I can learn from them?


We choose to listen with the intent of learning.


That's really important. We're not listening to seem calm or open to then jump back into persuasion mode. We listen to learn.


I didn't say we listen to agree. No, that is not realistic nor is it helpful. However, we can always, always, always listen to learn - to understand how they're seeing this.


Then, as the speaker, they feel valued.


As great as I think my opinions are - people will forget what I say. But they may never forget how I made them feel.


Becoming listeners first and foremost in our conversations with others helps us say, “I value you. You’re more important than my right-ness and my opinions. You’re worthy of my self-control.”


Gentleness - What It Is and What It Isn't

We pray, we make our first response listening, and then, when we speak, we speak with gentleness.


Now, gentleness is a word that may tempt us to roll our eyes. Stay with me.


When I say gentleness, I don't mean weakness. I don't mean passivity, either. Biblical gentleness is neither of these things. Jesus was altogether gentle and we still see Him become angry. He turned over tables in His anger!


When we sense a conversation or a comment someone else has made triggering anger within us, we need to ask ourselves, would Jesus become angry by this? Righteous anger is balanced. It's being angry about the right things. It is not ravenous rage.


James continues with,


...be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. - James 1:19-20

Our anger needs to be filtered! Filtered through Christ.


Is this man's anger or is this anger from above? Would Jesus turn over a table for this? Then, why are we? Or, why are we not?



Is it possible to be right and win at the same time? Can the two coexist?



There's that question again.


The answer is yes, absolutely yes! While it is completely impossible to force our right-ness on each other and win at the same time, it is certainly possible to be right with each other and win at the same time.


We need to focus our attention and energy on becoming right with one another. When we make this the priority, there's room for disagreements and differing opinions. We are able to show the other, I may not agree with you, but I value you.


There's strength when we come together, when we link arms and listen. There's joy in asking questions and learning from one another. There's peace in surrender, surrendering our thoughts and right-ness (could also be called our "righteousness") to God. There's rest in humility.



The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.



I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!

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