Wednesday, May 8, 2013

More Wisdom: Am I being open to reason? (Part 5)

On the heels of asking Am I thoughtful of where the other is coming from? is another question from James 3:17 that asks, Am I being open to reason? It along with the other questions helps foster healthy relationships, especially with those who can make you crazy. Hey, we all have them, right? Some with whom we’ve even fallen in love, or with whom we've chosen to work with, or live beside.

Am I being open to reason?

This aspect of God’s wisdom in relationships is probably the hardest for most of us. Here’s the way that James says it:  “It (the wisdom from above) obeys.” Hmmm. Not our forte for most of us. Add to this the fact that some of us may be looking at a translation that actually says, “It is submissive.” Now, that will raise the temperature a bit. Both of those words are buzz words because they come with some real baggage. But I want to explain this practice in a way that hopefully removes some of that baggage.

What James is simply saying here is:  Are you open to reason?  Are you open to the point of view of the other person in the relationship? The word we translate either obey or be submissive has the meaning simply – Don’t be stubborn. Or don’t be defensive. Don’t be argumentative. But be willing to listen. What James implies here is to be open to reason.

Another way to say it is: Being willing to set your agenda to the side long enough to listen and try on someone else’s point of view and giving it a real chance to say something to you that you may need to hear.

In conversations many of us are actively forming a counter –argument, even while the other person is sharing theirs. We converse in our heads how we will defend why we are right just as soon as the person stops talking. We aren’t listening as much as we are preparing a rebuttal.

Many of us if we are honest feel quite a bit like Gore Vidal who said: There is no human problem that could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.

Can people who disagree with you reason with you? Or is your opinion the only one allowed in the room? Do you react defensively when someone points out something that you'd rather not hear, or disagrees with a long-held opinion of yours, or calls you to amend some habit? Some things we just don’t want to hear; but are the very things we need to hear. Even the crazymakers in our lives can be spot on, can provide an angle, a perspective, and we need to listen. Why not simply relax a bit and say, “If there’s truth here, I’ll embrace it. If there isn't, then I'll leave it."

Am I open to reason? It’s a good question to explore with someone you trust. It might surprise you to find out that this is one area of your relationships that needs some work.