Last night, something happened that pissed me off. It was a little thing really and I’m not going into detail because it really is unimportant. Basically, someone got extremely offended when I questioned the validity of something she said. That turned into her talking about me with others and dismissing me in a very public manner. It was an extremely frustrating and uncomfortable situation for me and as many of you know, I have a hard time with controlling my tears when I’m angry. I did well with it last night though…I didn’t cry until I got home and discussed it with Stan. (I know what you’re thinking: That Stan Massey is one lucky man! By the way, his advice was “Next time, just punch her in the throat!” He always knows how to make me giggle! I love that man!)
Anyway, the purpose of this musing is to continue through my journey of heart-space preparation during advent (the irony of this sentence immediately following the throat-punching humor is not lost on me 😉)…so, I figure there is something in this experience that I need to learn from. There is some sort of truth that I need to apply in order to get myself into a better posture before God. Lots of thoughts immediately spring to mind: Don’t worry about the little things, what other people think of me is unimportant, everyone has a bad day so we need to become experts at practicing grace…and lots of other things. But, I’m not feeling the little *click* that tends to come when I stumble onto the right thing to muse about with any of those ideas, so I thought I’d muddle through this instead: The gal’s behavior last night was such a turn-off (although I know…I really do know that she is a lovely person) that, even if she hadn’t been incorrect with what she was saying, I wouldn’t have been able to really hear her. So, that leads me to a place of piggy-backing on yesterday’s musing (Basically, the story we tell with our lives, is more important than the book jacket (our physical appearances) that we wrap our precious story in.) I think today, I am needing to remember two things: First, how we present our story to other people matters. And secondly, if I truly believe my story (in this case, testimony) then it should be strong enough to stand up to questioning and scrutiny.
How we present our story matters:
This can be dissected down much farther. For one thing, people absolutely read our tone and body language because those things tend to relay truth even when our mouths lie. What I mean by this is that, if my purpose here is to tell a love story from God, the presentation of my story should exude love because people may not remember the words that are spoken but they almost always remember how it made them feel. (Take for example, these “Christian Churches” that are trying to tell the world the message of a loving God by screaming and spreading hate. The loving God is no less real just because these terribly mis-guided people have their information and approach wrong. But yet, people are so turned off by these churches that they are turning away from and rejecting that loving God.) Another thing about the presentation of our stories is that there is no formula for how to do it correctly. Each person we interact with has different needs and perspectives so we have to get to know our audience. In this case, I think that means that we need to put effort into knowing people. Understanding them. (Referring back to the story at the beginning) I have to assume that asking questions somehow equates to disrespect or aggression in the mind of this gal. But truthfully, I ask a lot of questions because I have a deep need to understand processes…the “why” and “how” behind the fact being presented. My brain is not capable of rote memorization, so to learn something, I dissect it. If this gal had understood her audience, she would know I wasn’t being ugly or combative…I simply wanted to fully grasp the concept. But instead of understanding her audience, she got defensive and lashed out and consequently, her point has been lost and dismissed.
A worthwhile story, can stand up under questioning and scrutiny:
I think that if something is factual, it should be able to be observed and dissected without fear. The alternative is that we voluntarily “know” things that might be untrue. (And honestly, with my brain damage, I just don’t have the extra space in my head for that.) I can use myself as an example on being defensive about questioning: When I was younger, I had a lot of anxiety around people asking me about my faith. Looking back on it, I think it’s because it lived in my head-space but not my heart-space. What I mean by that is that I had very few personal experiences to draw from…I knew God would never fail me when times got rough…but I didn’t yet have personal experience where that had been proven true. So when someone asked me how I knew that my beliefs were valid, my terrible response had something to do with choosing to believe it or embracing the idea of hell. (How is that for defensive?) Anyway, I’m sure that my approach was ineffective and the truth was missed because I wasn’t willing to bat the idea around for a while with the person. It was an opportunity for us to both learn something, but my unwillingness to allow scrutiny (because of my own insecurities) broke down the communication and we never finished the conversation. All that to say, if we believe something strongly enough to stand on it…to claim it as our purpose or part of our story…then we need to be willing to let ourselves and others test it and see how it performs.
I know I threw a ton of analogies at you this time…I’m not even sure this musing makes sense because I started with an argument of sor(I’m still crunching on it.) But regardless, how are you doing with this? Think about the things that you hold as truth. How willing are you to have a dialog about them? If someone asks you questions about them, do you take that as a threat or an opportunity? Do you only bat around ideas with people who agree with you or do you break out in hives just thinking about the prospect of discussion with someone with an opposing view? What about your presentation? Do your actions line up with your message? Do your motives? If you feel that these questions were particularly rough, how do you think you could explore your thoughts in a safe environment? Who is your safe person to discuss this with? How did you come to believe what you believe?
My prayer for us all today is that we would be willing to think and learn about the things that we espouse. (For me, it is my faith.) I’m praying that we would not just regurgitate ideas that we have been told, but that we would explore those ideas and move toward deeper understanding…that we would allow what we believe to mingle in with how we live…that we would allow our true beliefs to take up residence in a much more visceral place inside us so that, once we are sure of them, we would allow them to guide our decisions and behavior. Much love friends,
***Picture taken from the following site and then adapted: http://www.craftstylish.com/item/41689/craft-for-cats-two-yarn-scrap-toys-for-your-feline-friends/page/all