Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Listen Twice ... Speak Once

How many times have you had someone approach you saying they heard 'this' or 'that'; something that takes you by surprise or possibly saddens you? It's easy to overhear a conversation that you weren't actually part of, hear only parts of the information being shared, and then find yourself sharing what you 'thought' you heard. We all do it; perhaps not intentionally, but we have done it. There are dangers, though, to speaking too soon.

When we only have half of the real information - sharing assumptions can be misconstrued as gossip. In our eagerness to help others (often times asking people to pray), the old game of 'telephone' (symbolized with a tin can and a long string) can be started. We all know what happens then. The more times a phrase is repeated it is inadvertently changed ever so slightly with each re-sharing. We could be doing others more harm than good by speaking too soon. Suddenly, someone who said they were hoping to start a family (some day) is now expecting twins. Someone, who is going in for tests has already been diagnosed by those who overheard a conversation. The proverbial train can now start to derail. Someone hears something (maybe incorrectly, maybe indirectly) and now in an effort to show support sends a sympathy or encouragement card. Their intentions were good, but now the person receiving it may or may not be ready to discuss something that they thought was still somewhat private.
Perhaps there is no clear, defined moral to this story other than for the sake of others we should always remember to listen twice and speak once, preferably when we know for a fact that it's o.k. to share people's stories. Prayer is a beautiful, compassionate, and powerful thing to do - but we should be sure of exactly what we are actually praying for. God is busy - wouldn't it be best to give him the most accurate information in our prayers that we can?

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