Lately, there's a common theme floating around our house, a lesson my children are learning the hard way. And if I'm honest, I'm still a student of myself.
It's the simple skill of asking questions and listening.
It's easy to make assumptions and allow our minds to create a narrative based on partial truths that we know about each other. But it's hurtful. It causes misunderstanding, disconnect, and opens the door for bitterness to take root. Especially with those we love most. I see my kids do this to each other all the time. They accuse one another of stealing before asking if anyone saw their headphones. They take a whispered mumble and create a narrative of "she said" based on their fears. And they argue relentlessly over matters that are only a big deal in their minds. Over and over, in some form or another, they're bent to assume the worst about each other.
As we all are, to some degree.
As a parent, it's hard to watch the ways they unknowingly hurt one another. And as someone guilty of it herself, I wonder where I unknowingly hurt those around me. I wish it were always easy to believe the best, but it's not. Asking questions and listening is a skill we must always practice. It's powerful and makes all the difference in the world.
It makes people feel seen and loved.
It breaks false narratives and opens the door to the truth.
It positions our hearts to serve others instead of ourselves.
It dismantles anger.
It broadens perspectives.
It paves the way for conflict resolution.
It builds relationships.
In a world where we have so many reasons to disagree and differ, and in our homes where we have so many causes to assume because we know someone better than they know themselves, we should seek to implement this practice in our lives. And in doing so, we teach it to those around us.
Words and tone can cut like a knife. So let us be quick to listen, slow to speak, and seek to understand before making sure we're understood.
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