This is another post inspired by Pastor Becky and is related to this post about discernment.
There are times when I feel compelled to share the truth with someone. My compulsion to share may not be at all related to the other person’s need or readiness to know. When that happens, I am often quite surprised that the other person reacts so negatively. I can accuse them of defensiveness or irrational reactions, or I may think they can’t face the truth, or that they don’t like me or my words just because I don’t agree with them. In fact, often they are just reacting to my delivery, or my timing, or my lack of understanding about the whole picture. Over time, I have learned to listen more, watch for queues and practice a soft delivery. When I speak truth, I try to do it in a way that would be welcome to my ears if I was on the receiving end. I am a work in progress, but I have gotten better.
I have learned that sometimes the best truth I can share is none. Sometimes I just need to zip my lip. There is a time and a place for truth. Just because I believe it to be truth, doesn’t mean that I should share it.
So today, my advice to you is to learn to zip your lip.
Ask, Seek, Knock.
It is important to ask what is going on in someone’s life (understand the “truth” from a different perspective, or at least with additional color), seek perspective from their point of view, knock on the doors of their heart. And if they open the door, if they invite you in, your truth will not only be more credible, but more welcome.
This will be frustrating. You will mess up. Sometimes you won’t ever get to say what is on your mind. All of those things are ok.
What is important is that you always respect the place the other person comes from. Recognize that your truth is not going to be their truth, and that nobody likes to hear that they need to be fixed. Relationships are more important than your opinions…and you have to know that your “truth” is actually just your opinion and it is no more or no less important than someone else’s.
If you find yourself wondering why people don’t want to listen to you, why they don’t like what you have to say, and sometimes don’t like you, ask yourself, “Should I just zip my lip?” I think you will find that more often than not, the answer may be yes.
And yes, I recognize that you may think that I need to practice this one some more. And you are probably right. Maybe we can work on it together.