Proverbs 18:2 Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions…4 Wise words are like deep waters; wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook…13 Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.
But I know the answer! Friendship is not Jeopardy. You don’t go banging on the button halfway through the question. I’ve spent my life examining human nature, and there are a few plots that are common. Someone starts talking, and my brain goes to sorting out the clues and BUZZ! I know the plot, and I already have an answer in my stockpile of Krisdom (Kristi + wisdom. Told you I was clever). I want to be helpful, but my friend is not done sharing. Mr. Trebek, what do I win?
A frustrated friend.
Reality is, I don’t always know the answers. Even when I do, I absolutely MUST keep some things in mind if I want to be wise and not a fool:
1. Wait. Time and attention are the fuel of friendship. When people feel something deeply, it’s hard to do a 10-words or less synopsis. Instead, they need to express it, sometimes at length, until they’re past the bottleneck and on to open road. Make sure they know you’re listening with a head nod or “Aw,” but give them their turn.
2. Reiterate. I think 6 steps ahead, but when I begin at the end, it totally confuses people. My husband used to say, “You’re not listening to me,” but eventually I realized that what he needed was for me to reiterate what he had said. We learn that in customer service, but fail to do it in relationships sometimes. When someone finishes pouring out their hearts to you, reiterate some of what they said. For one thing, this will eliminate misunderstanding—how often do people talk in circles when they’re upset? It also reassures them that you cared enough to really hear them.
3. Don’t Hate. Forgive me—the cheesy lyricist in me couldn’t resist rhyming. The point is valid, though. My mom drove us crazy when we were kids, because she would not simply listen to our sob stories and go, “Poor baby.” Oh no, we had to describe the whole story and address how the other kid probably felt as well. She was right. There are two reasons for this. God loves both your friend and the dastardly doer of the deed that undid ‘em. And we know that even if the deed really was a horrible crime, forgiveness is the only doorway to true healing. The other reason is that today’s hate is tomorrow’s love. If you jump on the hate train with your friend today, and your friend makes up with the hatee, then things get awkward. Your friend might be ashamed to share with you in the future or you might get frustrated and judgmental, and a lifelong friendship fades over a temporary situation.
Lord, thank You for giving us wisdom. Give us more, and help us to express it wisely. In every situation, help us to speak what You want said, shush what You don’t, and do it all in the right time. We love You, Lord. You are such a perfect example for us to follow.
Totally unrelated, but I’m a fan of NPR’s “Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!” so I thought I’d post a link here for you to enjoy.