My thoughts (Melody Merida):
I once counseled a couple who were having challenges communicating with one another. One person in the relationship would share something, anything, even something as benign as what had happened at work that day. And the other person would respond with a statement that began with, “What you should do is…”, and then they would proceed to share their opinion about how their spouse should respond or act in whatever situation they were discussing.
The one sharing that they were being helpful by giving their opinion; in fact, they thought that by sharing their story their spouse was asking for advice. Of course, the person sharing felt like they were never truly heard; they felt like their spouse had never really tried to understand their perspective because they were too busy sharing their opinion about what should be done.
While I am thinking of a specific couple as I write this, the reality is that type of conversation happens every day in relationships, and not just of the intimate variety. Think about it. When was the last time someone shared something with you, and instead of immediately jumping in with a similar situation from your own experience or giving your opinions, you just sat and listened, or maybe asked probing questions to better understand what was being shared and the underlying feelings? If I had to answer that question I might be in trouble. I am often all too willing to jump in and share my own opinion before really taking the time to understand the other person.
Our scripture for today tells us that “fools take no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing personal opinion.” Are you consciously seeking to understand, or are you jumping in like a fool, only concerned about expressing your own opinion? Try listening to understand and see how it transforms your relationships and transforms you!
Thought for the day: With whom can I practice active listening today? What can I do to pursue understanding without expressing my personal opinion?
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.