Here on this blog, it is okay if I focus on explaining the things in my head and heart. That is a large part of why I started it. I appreciate the effort of trying to work things out in written words and I love to connect with other people who do the same. It is appropriate for the point of this space to be where I try to explain what I think and what I mean and what I believe.
But at about three o’clock this morning, as I was thinking over several things I wanted to explain, I realized that I need to balance my pursuit of expressing myself with discernment for the times I need to check my desire to explain. Outside of this blog, there will frequently be times when it’s not about people “getting” me, not about telling people what I think.
I need to pay attention for the times in life that are more about gaining understanding, than giving it.
And there is a lot I do not understand.
I realized that I have to work to be present in a place of trying to gain understanding. Conversations are not simply about launching into what I think or how I disagree or what I'd like others to understand that I mean. When I engage in a dialogue with someone, it needs to be from a place that shows that what I think or want to explain is not my main goal. Many times, setting aside those things for the sake of listening and really hearing the other person should be my priority. And that means listinging and thinking about what is being expressed without being preoccupied with what point I want to make next. It means focusing on the other person.
Even if that means listening to the hard stuff.
Even if that means listening to words that seem like criticism of me and what I think and how I feel.
Yes. I know there will be times it is right for me to state my case. There will be times to stand up and disagree. There will be times to walk away from a conversation. There will be times to say that a response was unwarranted or inappropriate. There will be a time when I won't gain understanding no matter how earnestly I try.
But I have to begin by not jumping in with my responses before I've listened. I have to begin by working, with humility and a sincere heart, to gain understanding. I realize that sometimes this will mean not being able to explain myself. I realize that may mean foregoing the opportunity to state my case.
But that is okay.
It's the listening and the understanding I need to be working on anyway.
Though it cost you all you have, get understanding. – Proverbs 4:7