In my last blog entry, I discussed our lack of tolerance, and our habit of rudely imposing our opinions on others. We often use the phrase “Do you mind if I say something?” as a pathway for that imposition.
I believe we should use more tact, wisdom and grace as we speak into each other’s lives. Over the years, I have developed four questions that I try to ask myself before I attempt to speak into someone’s life (and that I consider in reverse when approached with offers of advice):
- Have I earned my voice? Have I shown this person how much I respect them and care for them? Have I honored their opinion or role? Have I shown them any random acts of kindness or extraordinary courtesy, sympathy or care? Have I invested in them?
- How much does this weigh? What is the weight of the responsibility of this attempt to effect change? Years ago, there was a person in my community who felt it her right and duty to counsel EVERYBODY. She felt she had the best insights about everything from their choice of apartment to their diet, from how they spent their free time to whom they married, etc., etc., etc. I always wondered how she managed to carry the weight of all that responsibility. Hear this: with control comes liability.
- Is this light or shadow? We each have a light and a shadow. The light beams from us with pride and pleases even Self as it is reflected on those around. Our shadow, on the other-hand, is cast upon those around us, and displeases even Self when it is seen. Often times, that which we want to change in another is really what we need to change in Self. Allowing misunderstanding here to inform action will always lead to shame and unhealth.
- Is this help or intolerance? Is this truly something that I cannot simply accept as one of the six-billion, eight-hundred-and-forty-million, five-hundred-and-seven-thousand other people on this planet?
Ask first. Preach later.