About a week ago, my mom and I were at the parking lot of our local bank, in the car ready to leave. I, being the driver, began to accelerate forward seeing that there were no cars in my way. My mom said, “Jasmine, stop, reverse instead!”
Annoyed, I told her, “Mom, just relax OK, there are no cars pulling into the space in front!” Thinking that my mom was silly for being worried that other cars would pull into the lot in front of me since there were obviously no cars in sight, I didn’t listen and accelerated further, and that’s when I heard a loud SCRAAAATCH coming from my car’s bottom exterior.
I had not seen the cement parking stopper, and the bottom of my car had scraped against it pretty badly.
I gave my mom a sheepish grin. “Wups…”
My mom didn’t look too happy, and I don’t blame her. I could’ve saved myself a whole lot of damage if I had only just listened to what she had to say instead of just assume what I thought she meant.
Thankfully, I wasn’t lectured after that, but it did make me think about things.
I started to think about all the other times I talked over my mom - and other people - because I thought I was right. I did not want to let them win. I needed to be right. I needed to be the one to win in the end, because it doesn’t feel good to lose.
I did not even give them an opportunity to explain much. As they talked, all I would do was think about how the other party was just so stubborn or so sensitive or so irritating, etc. etc.
Granted, there have been disagreements in the past where I really was right and my arguments made a lot of sense. But you know what? I didn’t come out a winner in that argument because I was the real loser. I was the person who wasn’t humble enough to listen to the feelings, thoughts, and perspectives of the other person. I was too proud to listen or hear anything they had to say. I wanted to remain close-minded and prove to the other person that I was right because I thought my opinion was correct.
Sounds horribly selfish me, but it’s happened before. Many times.
And I want to say sorry to all those people. Sorry for not being willing to step out of my own comfort zone to hear you out. Sorry for being judgmental and for thinking that I was always right.
Most importantly, I’m sorry for ever thinking that me proving myself to be right was more important than our relationship.
At the end of the day, I know that relationships with people are worth so much more than proving to them that they're wrong.
There’s a time for everything, and I’m not insinuating that we should never speak our minds and opinions to others or our loves ones and that we should agree with everything they’ve ever said. Don’t do that, because that would be wrong too.
What I am saying is that truth must be spoken in love, at the right time, with the right motive.
This issue is a near and dear to me because I have seen way too many of my loved ones hurt by other people, sometimes by the people closest to them, because those people wanted to prove a point, and they did it without even hearing the other party out, which causes the other party to feel stupid and unimportant. And to make things worse, they often put the other person down harshly. They may have won the argument, but the relationship they have with that person becomes damaged and many times, broken.
We’ve all had this happen to us, and we’ve all been guilty of doing this to others. From experience, we all know that there is no winner in this situation.
The good news is we can start mending our relationships -- present and future ones -- now by being better listeners in our conversations with others. Here's some food for thought: What is that person trying to tell you? Why are they feeling this way? What can I do, or what can I say to help them understand my point of view without hurting their esteem or making them feel worthless?
If you are currently in a situation where you are on the receiving end of this, where you have a person in your life who you feel fails to listen to you and understand your feelings, then please take my advice: Forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing. Seriously, that person most likely doesn’t even know that they’re failing to listen. If you fail to forgive, you start building up invisible walls around yourself and you start breaking down internally - and guess what, you begin to treat other people the same hurtful way that you feel you’ve been treated.
Second of all, pray for them. Don’t try to rebel against this person or take revenge - you’ll ultimately lose the relationship you once had with this person if you do. Instead, seek God for opportunities to explain to tell them that they’re not listening to you and why that’s hurtful. They may deny it, but trust me, they’ll start thinking about what you’ve said, and hopefully, that will get them to start self-evaluating their attitudes.
Finally, continue being a good friend to them. It’s dreadfully hard, I know, but in showing them that you care, that you listen, and that you’re willing to share your opinions and thoughts with the right attitude, it will get them thinking. It really will. Because they’ll notice that you’re different from them - that you’re always calm, you’re never out to win an argument just because, and that you are loving and selfless. That’s something that’s rare and hard to find.
Don’t worry though -- we all make mistakes from time to time, and sometimes the same ones over and over again. But the love and mercy that God has graciously shown us should be what ultimately compels us to love others and see that our relationships with people far outweigh the importance of winning an argument that ultimately won’t matter in 50 years.