Sunday, May 22

Listening to one another's stories

Of the 50+ "one anothers" in the New Testament, I am not aware of any that exhort us to listen to one another's stories. Yet, I know of no better way to begin fulfilling the one another passages than by getting to know each other's stories.

Listening to one another's stories:

-brings us together
-unites us
-makes us more human
-gives us context for understanding each other better
-reveals our hearts
-corrects misconceptions
-draws us together
-makes us more of a "real" person
-reveals what we have in common
-makes us appreciate others more
-reveals areas we were unaware of before
-reveals how much more we have in common than differences
-fills in gaps about the "why's" of people's actions/behavior
-rids us of false impressions we might have had
-clarifies things we only vaguely knew before
-and a lot more...

The sum total of the above is that we are drawn together to better:

-be of the same mind toward one another
-be devoted to one another
-give greater preference to one another
-help to not judge one another
-build up one another
-accept one another
-bear one another's burdens
-care for one another
-serve one another
-tolerate one another in love
-be kind to one another
-be subject to one another
-consider one another more important than ourselves
-bear with one another
-forgive one another

The sum total of these and other similar exhortations is that we come closer to fulfilling the command of Christ to truly love one another as God loves us.

Sadly, most of us define people by a few skewed perceptions. We are quick to label a person based upon what someone else has said about them, or our own quick conclusions from distorted or partial facts. People seem a lot different when we know their story.

I know in my own life I do this all the time. I tend to define people by a single action, word, attitude, behavior, or impression. A brief encounter and I unconsciously label people: boring/interesting, liberal/conservative, shallow, uninteresting, creative, cry-baby, know-it-all, hick, bad/good, want to know better/never want to see again, useful, proud, etc. How is it that we are so quick to define an entire person's life solely on the basis of a quick impression, out-of-context facts, an incident, appearances, a word spoken, or hasty conclusions?

It upsets me to know others define me as something I am not. It hurts to be unfairly labled by the distorted conclusions people make about me based upon fragments of my story.

Recently I was hurt to find out a fellow brother in Christ despises me in his heart. This is someone with whom we have worked closely for many years. Why? I was born in the USA. No other considerations factor into the equation. I am an American, therfore I am the embodiment of all that he thinks is wrong about America. He doesn't see Guy Muse, he sees an ugly American.

Unfair? Of course it is. But that is what most of us do all the time with each other. We make judgements about people based on a few distorted facts or impressions without knowing the other persons story.

Suggestions for telling our story:

-allow time for "small talk" but suggest listening to one another's stories
-"break the ice" by being the first to share your story
-take the time needed to really hear one another's story
-ask questions allowing for further clarification
-share only what you are comfortable sharing, but enough to allow us to get to know the real you
-share family background and upbringing
-share struggles (people tend to identify more with weaknesses than achievements)
-influences in my life, key people
-how I got to where we are now
-who I am in my own eyes, how do I see myself?
-key milestones in my spiritual journey
-how I met Jesus
-events/experiences that have helped shape my life
-likes/dislikes
-passions, interests, hobbies
-dreams, goals
-mistakes and what was learned
-pray for the person after hearing their story

What is important in all the above is that we get to know each other beyond that which is superficial. What makes people interesting is what is on the inside. The more we know one another, the easier it is to love and accept them for who they are. We want to know the real you, not the masks we hide behind. To know is to know.

6 comments:

Arthur Sido said...

This is excellent. It seems that we (i.e. me) spend more time talking at one another and less listening to each other. God has worked in so many lives in so many wonderful ways, I love to hear people talk about their story!

GuyMuse said...

Arthur,

All of us need to share our stories, but so few are willing to give us the time to listen. What intrigues me is the amount of time we spend with superficial stuff, yet the things that really matter and are what is really on our heart and mind, seldom have an outlet.

norma j hill said...

Awesome! Thank you so much for this post. I need to do a lot more listening.

GuyMuse said...

Norma,

Thanks for stopping by and for the comment. We all need to do less talking and more listening.

Kelsey said...

I know you wrote this a year ago, but you have no idea what it means to me. I've been looking at your site for a bit, seeing what wisdom an M might have. I'm considering going as a journeyman and am an MK myself, so it's been really encouraging.

Anyway, I get very caught up in myself and how other people should treat me in one way, but I think that God brought me to this post to remind me about being considerate of others - and loving others when its unfair. Thanks!

Kelsey said...

I know you wrote this a long time ago, but you have no idea what it means to me. I've been looking at your site for a bit, seeing what wisdom an M might have. I'm considering going as a journeyman and am an MK myself, so it's been really encouraging.

Anyway, I get very caught up in myself and how other people should treat me in one way, but your post reminds me to be considerate of others, even in unfair situations. And find out their side. Thanks!