This morning I was having issues with the heater in my truck. Given that it was 46 degrees outside today, this new development was immediately promoted to my must-immediately-address list. Driving home, my thoughts were overwhelmed with my own agenda.
Until I pulled into the drive.
Taking a deep breath, I adjusted my thoughts to remember that my sweet husband, inside busily working, had his own agenda. His own to-do lists and set of thoughts, circumstances and unique problems to be worked out. If there is one thing I have learned in 17 years of marriage and 47 years of life, it is that the world does not revolve around me.
Nor should it.
I often ask my kids if it’s more important to be heard, or to be understood. While it is human nature to long to be understood, to have our needs met and priorities validated, it is also quite predictable that most will elevate their need to express themselves above the desires, needs, capacity and timing of others.
Years ago, a wise woman shared with me that in her experience with ministry, she has learned to allow people with a seeming emergency to sometimes have a day or two to rest before she responds. She said that oftentimes by the time she responds, the person has already taken the emotion out of the equation and has solved their own challenge.
I used to just bombard Chris when he would come home from work – the tensions of the day, the disappointments and frustrations – with no thought to what that felt like to him when he was walking into what was supposed to be a place of rest and refuge (for ALL of us). When his response was less than what I had hoped for (which was often, given my selfishness), I would become sullen and feel dejected.
And, so did he.
Over time I began to see the value in honoring HIS space, HIS time, HIS capacity. And, as I learned to honor him better, he began to honor my voice as well. The things that I deemed so valuable were worth more than to merely be flung at an unwilling participant, but carefully presented when I was aware he was positioned in a space in which he actually had the bandwidth to navigate thoughtfully.
My entitlement dimmed and we were both set up for success.
Watching headlines, video clips on social media, reading myriad angry and impassioned posts, I see a daily reminder that generation after generation has missed the opportunity (or direction?) to make the conscious decision to learn how to truly honor ones own space, and the space of others. We rail and cry out wanting to be heard, our needs and opinions overshadowing others, meanwhile, giving little to no ear to those around us. In doing so, unwittingly sabotage the very understanding and audience we crave.
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven – Ecclesiastes 3:1
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. – Proverbs 25:11
There is one who speaks like piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health. – Proverbs 12:18
It is not so much what we say, but the when and how – choose wisely, my friend, always remembering the end game….