By: Cindee Johnson
Encompass Relationship Coach
Traffic was flowing smoothly on the fairly crowded Columbus, Ohio, roadway. As we neared a major highway split, the vehicle next to us floored it. Cutting through the area marked with yellow hazard lines, the driver suddenly shifted into our lane barely missing a concrete barrier that could have tragically stopped him. Our Jeep automatically sensed the reckless vehicle and slowed nearly to a stop. My husband Dave looked ahead breathing a sigh of relief that the Jeep offers such great safety features. At the same time, I watched in the passenger side mirror commenting that the Jeep nearly stopping was not safe and we were going to get rear-ended!
We were in the same vehicle, traveling the same direction, experiencing the same situation, yet seeing it from two entirely different points of view. By definition, perspective is just that—a point of view. We certainly all have one, don’t we? Whether it is driving, politics, religion, parenting, food, climate…the list is never ending. We see it played out in debates all over social media, on the news, at dinner tables, during talk shows. So, how do we navigate different perspectives in a way that respects another’s point of view without losing sight of our own values and beliefs?
Listening, not to respond, but to hear. I can tell you it takes practice. Our brains are wired to respond. We want our perspective heard. We want to be sure our point of view is considered. And, very quickly we end up looking at the same situation from opposite directions. Debates can ensue. It happens in all sorts of relationships. Especially in marriage. Where it is most damaging. I find it interesting that we all so desperately want to be heard, yet we often have such difficulty listening to hear another. Maybe it is because listening to hear means listening with our hearts. And, that means setting aside our perspective to hear the heart of our spouse. I didn’t do well at that when Dave and I encountered the reckless driver.
While Dave wanted me to hear how thankful he was that the Jeep’s safety features kept us from an accident, I totally missed his grateful heart by trying to make sure my point of view was heard. Which God actually used to shift my perspective. Because I don’t ever again want to miss my husband’s grateful heart. So, I am listening to hear. Even when driving in traffic!
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19 NLT
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.