James 1:19- Let everyone be quick to hear, be a careful and thoughtful listener, slow to speak, a speaker of carefully chosen words and slow to anger being patient, reflective and forgiving.
From the moment you started reading this post I’m certain that there are some kind of noises in your background. Pause for a moment and focus on what you hear. My background noises consist of JJ doing radio, a light humming sound from my refrigerator, and the wind hitting my windows. There are different sounds happening in your surroundings every day. However, when I am focusing on typing and what I need to say I have to tune those noises out. That is the difference between just hearing something and listening to something or someone. Hearing is soundwaves. It’s what you do automatically without much effort on your part. Hearing is a natural function of the human body. Listening is different. Listening requires your attention. It requires you to make sense of what you heard and your brain determines what the noises are with in milliseconds. This is why I love the amplified version of the scripture James 1:19 because it stresses to be quick to hear but then it also says be a careful and thoughtful listener. Often times when we are speaking to people we tune out a little because we think we already know what the person is going to say and where the conversation is going. But little do we realize how much is being said that we are not listening to. Listening requires you to turn off your thoughts and refrain from determining what your response is going to be until you have fully listened to the person doing the speaking. When trying to diffuse a situation we should allow each person to speak for at least 30 seconds or more without interruption and fully listen to the person doing the speaking. This is key to getting an understanding of what that person is feeling. Underneath the anger or hurt there are issues and feelings being expressed that we need to listen to in order to come to a resolution.
The scripture says be slow to speak. Everything does not require your immediate response. When we were young, and maybe some of us now, we’re told to think before you speak. Choosing the right words to say in every situation is so vital to healthy relationships. Once you put a negative, degrading or angry comment out there, you really can’t retract the statements mentally from the other person’s head. So it’s dangerous to speak out of anger. Even if you feel anger, don’t speak anger. Translate your anger into words that express the sentiments of your heart, rather than the anger of your emotions. That takes skill. But if you are slow to speak you can determine what that translation should say. It’s simply called effective communication.
Lastly the scripture calls us to be reflective and forgiving. Always keep in mind that either somewhere in our past or somewhere in your future you have needed or you are going to need forgiveness. No one is without fault. Although someone has hurt you this time around, you may be sitting in the seat of needing forgiveness as well. Be humble enough to realize that you need the mercy of God and may need the mercy of your spouse at some point. Till death do us part can last a very long time. In order for “till death do us part” to work you have to stay reflective; carefully examining your life daily to see what you may have done wrong and what you can do better.