“Charity suffereth long, and is kind, charity envieth not, charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.” (I Cor. 13:4)
Have you ever noticed how we humans tend to get stuck on our own
viewpoint, our own perception of a happening, and come to some conclusion
about the happening, so sure we are right? Later, we may learn there
were other factors involved, and that we were not correct at all. The truth
was somewhat different.
Well, why are other viewpoints important anyway? A frozen misunderstanding is something that can hamper or even totally destroy relationships between family, friends, and co-workers for years if not talked about by each person really listening to the other and giving real credibility to what the other is saying. Of course, each person in such a conversation needs to be kind and honest, and not manipulatory or “mud-slinging.” Moreover, each person needs to respect the fact that something is really bothering the other person, and be considerate enough to be willing to talk about it in the first place. Even if talking about a discord is uncomfortable for both parties at first, it should be done. Even if the parties end up disagreeing in the end, at least they know their viewpoints and feelings have been listened to and respected. Real resolution can break down “walls” between people and allow them to be closer than ever.
We all have feelings, and if hurtful happenings are allowed to remain in people’s memories unresolved, they can lead to long-term hurt, discord, and alienation.. If someone has hurt us, even if we forgive, that doesn’t mean we will trust them again, because our perception of what kind of a person he or she is changed somewhat. Maybe the other person’s perception of us has changed to the negative, too.
It is impossible to have quality, close interpersonal relationships of harmony and real connectedness without “give and take.” I remember my son, who works my acreage with me, saying “You are being mean to me.” I said, “No, I’m not.” He said, “Yes, you are.” I finally figured it out that when he wouldn’t do a job well, or didn’t do what I asked, I would respond to him in an irritated manner, with a scowl and harsh voice. I changed all that to reminding him with kind face and soft voice. The result was that he does things so well now I have no cause to be irritated anyway. We have harmony instead of repeated discord. Harmony allows good feelings and warmth to flourish I had to understand him and to change myself to make it happen.
Keying into the viewpoint of our animals is extremely important, too. I know that Shauna, year old puppy, has chewed up a lot of things because she’s teething, and because she has separation anxiety when I’m gone for awhile. I know that usually marvelous cat Sparkles suddenly attacks and bites me sometimes in that I’ve read that 20% of cats do that, reason unknown. We need to take their point of view, too, and not just think they are being “mean and awful.”
We have to be humble to take seriously someone else’s point of view, be they human or animal.
We need to really respect their intelligence and full personhood. When
we really respect someone, we send the message we care about them, love
them, and value them. But when we won’t listen, we send the message we
don’t care about them or love them. Even though they may not
consciously think about it, the impact on them is that they believe they are
of little or no value to us, or of little or no value period!
This message has been hard for me to write. I hope God has given me the words to adequately describe to you this important area of living together. Perhaps few people ever think about it, but the need is so great to really connect and communicate with one another for the sake of Christ, for the sake of our world, and for the sake of one another and our animals. The truth really can set us free!!
Dr. Joyce The Caring Heart Copyright 2012
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