I talk a lot. I mean, a lot. My dad loves to tell this story about when I was four years old. He woke up in the middle of the night, heard me crying and came into my room- so worried in his heart.
"What's the matter, Trina" He asked me.
"Well, daddy, you see, I like to talk and I don't have anybody to talk to".
Yes, even at four, I enjoyed the power of my own words. To this day, I enjoy the hum of conversation and I feel uncomfortable in silent environments. So when I work, I keep music on or the TV on because I need to hear voices. Sometimes, I even sing out loud when I am alone. Why? Because I especially love my voice! lol. And although the gift of gab is great during Bible Study discussions or across the table from a new friend, it's terrible during an argument.
I, like so many of us, have a difficult time listening when things are heated. And although I am usually silent during moments of conflict, I must admit, it's not because I am absorbing the words I'm hearing. What I'm doing is mentally attacking back. If I'm not talking, well, best believe I am thinking about what words I'd like to say, and most times they are hurtful arrows I'm just not brave enough to release. This is a terrible attitude and one that I am constantly lifting up to God's throne of grace.
I am learning, with the grace that God pours over me, that if we desire to cultivate harmony in our marriages, in our friendships and within ourselves, then we must be women who listen with our hearts and not so focused on making our point.
"Know this, my beloved: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger"
Our tongues must be controlled. Just because we have the right to speak, doesn't give us permission to do so and if we desire to please Christ, even in our anger, we must consider other's and not just ourselves. In my own experiences, I find two personal errors when faced with conflict: speaking too soon, and thinking too much. Neither allow for listening. Our words can be premature and our thoughts become to loud for our ears to hear what is being spoken to us.
How to Listen Better:
Listening is an active and intentional skill, and it is a beautiful characteristic. It shows that you care, that you are concerned and that you desire to resolve an issue and reestablish harmony. It requires more than just looking at a person when they talk. How many times have we blanked out during a conversation that we weren't feeling at the moment?How many times have we been present in the room, but absent in our minds? No, this won't do for lasting and maturing marriages or deeper connections with our families or friends. We've got to be present in our listening and active in our desire for understanding.
I am learning to listen with an open mind and heart. This is a good trait for all of us. We are too touchy. We are too focused on getting respect and being heard, but are we willing to listen so that others are being heard? Too often, we only want confirmations of what we think is right. We show up to discussions with assumptions and biases that prevent us from learning, understanding and respecting the other person. We hear only what we want to hear, and our loved one's feelings and point of view fall, not only on deaf ears, but also on deaf hearts. This results in no resolution.
Our loved ones want our attention and consideration. They are fueled by our respect and they feel disappointed when they disappoint us. They want and need the opportunity to explain themselves, without rebuttals, interruptions or eye rolling! It's the same we want from them, so give and it will be given (Luke 6:38). Learn to listen with your heart, not just your head.
Keep in mind, arguments arise from conflicts due to facts and feelings. As women, we can be very emotional- either positively or negatively. Our hormones and misconceptions can get in the way and take us on unvolunteered joy rides. We explode- either outwardly or inwardly- and we have all been guilty of immature expressions of our anger or disappointment.
I will never forget our first marital argument. Jarrett and I were only married a few months and he was totally obsessed with sports during this time in our relationship. I knew he enjoyed them, but I had no idea how consuming the NFL was for him until after we were married. One Sunday, after like 4 hours of football, I was so fed up, I stood in front of the TV to get his attention, causing him to miss a play. He was so pissed at me! (lol) He yelled and I called him stupid and locked myself in the bathroom. Oh, that was a terrible day. He tried so hard to apologize, but I was unrelenting. I didn't speak to him for the rest of that day. I ignored him- trying to punish him for his crimes. This was so wrong, so immature and so selfish. It was unproductive and unnecessary.
We all make mistakes. We all do things that require forgiveness. We all are in need to explain ourselves from time to time. But when we refuse to listen, we hinder our ability to grow, to love and to forgive. We must desire harmony and unity above our pride or our insistence to be heard. Don't prevent opportunities to receive or grant forgiveness. This is what the enemy wants and as women whose hearts are grounded in Christ, we should have no interest in giving the enemy a foothold in our marriages, in our friendships or within our families.
Open your heart and listen: listen beyond the words and into the person's soul. Listen for opportunities for understanding and for reconciliation. Listen for the Holy Spirit's voice. He will show you truth beyond what your eyes can see or what your ears can hear. Remember, we serve a God who is passionate about forgiveness. He listens to our every cry and doesn't insist on rebutting our wrong doing. We have so much to learn from His heart. Our marriages and relationships are ordained for us to learn how to love and live like Jesus. We can practice by learning to listen.
#BeTheShe who listens with her whole heart!
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