I spoke with a woman recently, who was angry and frustrated about her situation. At first, I laid out the boundaries of what could and could not be done to assist her. She shot down every option I offered and then proceeded to share her heart. I could have dismissed what she was saying, as it wasn’t pertaining to the purpose of her call. But something inside said to be quiet and listen. For nearly fifteen minutes, I sat silently and actively listened to her concerns.
Instead of pushing through what she was saying to get my tasks accomplished, I acknowledged her hurt. Her heart, her sense of helplessness. I agreed her situation was overwhelming and that there were few options to salvage it. I offered the assistance I could and this time, she was willing to listen.
I offered mercy and she received it. If I had been belligerent in trying to “make” her do things my way we would have both lost. By choosing to offer mercy first, she was able to relax, to learn that I am for her and I care about her situation- even if I cannot repair it.
When people are forcing others to change their ways both sides will lose. When someone is willing to listen, to acknowledge the situation– even if they don’t agree with it, healing and progress can be made.
Think of the woman at the well (John 4) when Jesus talked with her, he didn’t condemn her, he talked and he listened. She realized what He was offering and she received it. Or the woman condemned for adultery (John 8). She was moments away from being stoned by the crowds, but Jesus reminded them that they were not stoned for their sins.
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7).
We can chose to be “right” all the time, or we can chose mercy. Being right can lead to being alone, very quickly. Being merciful can lead to more opportunities to discuss things with those who would otherwise close the door permanently.
Dear Ones, as our world continues to change, heartache will increase. The question comes, will we be more willing to point fingers or will we open our hands to those who need to know the Love of Christ- and maybe hear it for the very first time? The choice is yours.