Sometimes a conversation is obvious to one but not to others. I have struggled with this since I was very young. Some of my earliest memories include the words “but you’re not listening!” I was listening. I was also hearing something very different from what the person intended. As time and age have extracted their price from my journey, I have had time to examine my motives and intent. In many, far more than any imagined, my focus was solely on the conversation at hand. I was listening, intently. My motives were focused on being part of and contributing to the dialogue. Yet something happened along the way.
I find myself in an extremely fortunate position. I have a group of friends who understand I am focused and attentive. They also sense moments when the link between their intent and my understanding is missing or weak. Their response is to challenge and probe. They question. They wonder aloud if I get it. Initially a few thought I might be offended. To their surprise and mine, I wasn’t. I want a shared dialogue.
There is a model, well established across the centuries that we would do well to remember. It seems that “after breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’
‘Yes, Master, you know I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’” (John 21.15)
It is a simple question with a direct answer. The conversation is over. It is time to move on. The conclusion is wrong. Nothing is quite as it appears. Peter hasn’t heard the real question. So the conversation will circle back, more than once until the first part is clear.
I wonder if people understand my priorities. If they do not, then there is work to do! It is time to tell others how important they are. It is time to ensure individuals understand their value. They will be different if they know they are unconditionally accepted with an attitude of shared compassion. Never stop, do not continue, until this message is clear.
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