Thursday, 6 January 2011

Stop and Listen

The book of James, chapter one, verse 19 tells us that “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger”. I find that I am slowest to speak when I am formulating the brilliant insights that I wish to share while the other person is talking. I am also assuming that being quick to listen does not mean tune out or interrupt the other person in mid-sentence.

Each day, I receive an e-mail from Family Life entitled “Moments with You”. A recent e-mail included the following story:
"A group of carpenters building an icehouse in the north country of Canada was taking a lunch break when a boy came upon them and heard their conversation. One was bemoaning a watch he had lost at some point in the morning’s work. Though he’d looked for it for a couple of hours, he hadn’t been able to find it.
"Would you mind if I went into the ice house and looked?" the boy asked. "Yeah, sure," the men laughed, certain he’d never find anything in a dark room with no electricity. Within 30 seconds, the boy emerged holding the watch in his hand. The carpenters couldn’t believe it! "How did you find it?"
"It was simple," the boy said. "I just stopped in the middle of the room, stood still and listened for ticking."

This Moment went on to say “Many of us (especially us men) are rightly accused of not listening very well. We rarely stop and take time to focus our attention--to really hear--what our spouse is trying to tell us. Instead, we quickly say things like, "That’s dumb, honey. You shouldn’t feel that way. You’re blowing this all out of proportion." Those are statements that come from not really seeking to listen and understand where our wife or husband is coming from.

During serious conversations or conflicts, we need to stop and listen, ask questions or paraphrase what our spouse is saying in order to understand what he or she really means. Asking a good question can often be like an emotional crowbar to dislodge how somebody really feels.
In each of these Moments to You they include a discussion question. This particular message included the following questions: “The person who says, "You’re not listening to me," is usually right. How often are these words spoken between you? What is one habit you can change to become a better listener?”

Listening is another way of saying, "You’re important to me, and I love you."

Monday, 3 January 2011

Amazing Grace

In his chapter entitled “Amazing Grace” (What Did You Expect), Paul Tripp shares the following observation. “When you face the fact that your marital story is all about the wisdom and will of Another, your understanding of marriage completely changes forever.”

He goes on to say, “You know that your life has not worked according to your plan. Last month didn’t work according to your plan. Last week didn’t work according to your plan. Some of you are a bit ruffled as you read this today because you are being confronted with the reality that yesterday didn’t work according to your plan. Ten years ago you couldn’t have written yourself into the situation in which you are now living…Yes you made decisions along the way, and the decisions were very important and left a trail of consequences. But there is something even more foundational going on, and when you understand it, you will have a new understanding of the struggle of marriage.”

Some points to consider:
• Each of us is uniquely designed, a product of the creative artistry of God.
• The more we can esteem what God has created (our spouse) the less we will want to remake it.
• Refuse to see the differences in our spouse as right or wrong.
• Determine to respond to your differences with appreciation and respect.
• Learn where your differences create difficulty and be resolved to work on unification. Unity is the result or what husbands and wives do in the face of the inevitable differences that exist.
• Admit where these differences challenge you to grow. God is not above using the hardwiring of our spouse to expose our character deficiencies. Our differences reflect his glory and are for our good.

Some facts to accept:
• God is in absolute control of the details of our lives.
• God has a purpose for the situations and locations in which he places us.
• Marriage is one of God’s primary tools of personal change and growth.
• Three main tools of difference are used to reveal and change our hearts.
1. The way we have been hardwired, i.e. looks, gifts, personality, etc.
2. The difference in viewpoints, instincts, and tastes that have been formed from experiential, cultural and relational influences.
3. The differences in personal sin and weakness and in our growth in grace. We are at different places on the road to spiritual maturity.
• Change begins when we see these differences as grace rather than obstructions of grace.
• God is with you in your struggle.