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Uncommon Graces

October 27, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

We came home on Friday night about 8 pm from two weeks of visiting folks out of town and we were tired! Slept most of the day on Saturday, not even opening the front door of our house.  On Sunday, missed church and spent some significant time dealing with hurts in our relationship.  Later I went out and saw Tropic Thunder (quite crude so I can’t recommend it but there were a few laughs in it) and almost finished reading Uncommon Graces by John Vawter while having a cup of coffee–Vawter’s book is worthy of a few posts!

As I skim over the book, the following chapters stand out.  Chapter 2–Attentiveness–Vawter says that one of the ways we show our selfishness is in weak listening skills.

“Good listening also requires that we shift the focus of our attention to the other person’s words.  That means our reaction to his or her comments is less important than the content of those comments.  We should never assume we assume what someone else means. Such a judgment comes from pride . . .” 49

How good a listener am I?

Since we do a lot of listening in our current role. i sometimes want to speak truth into a person’s life–Vawter addresses this in chapter 4 of his book, “Candor.”

“Unlike rudeness, candor is the honest, loving, sensitive, and discreet presentation of truth.  It is always poite, gracious and courteous. It respects the dignity and feelings of other people.  It says things so clearly that people cannot mistake what is meant.  It won’t allow a no to sound like a yes. 80-81

For candor to have the positive fruit of truth spoken in love, it requires us to have courage, compassion, faith and the right motivation. “People need to sense we care for them before we confront them.” 81  When we began this role over a year ago, I had said that one of the things that I would do is to ask people the hard questions that no one else is asking.  A year later, (believe it or not) I keep my mouth shut a lot more–some of that is due to the pushbacks that have come when I have tried to speak with insight into a person’s life.  I have not always spoken out of a caring relationship to othes and so I have to accept some responsibility for that.  But there has been enough “other inflicted pain” that I have become much more reluctant to speak candidly to others.  Vawter says the opposite of candor is cowardice–ouch!  Lord, give me courage if you want me to speak after answering these three questions, “Is this the right thing to say? Is this the right time to say it? Am I the right person to say it?” 83

Related to candor is the chapter on mercy.  We need mercy if “we are going to help people overcome the hurts of the past. . . If we truly care about people, though, we will want to go beneath the surface to understand them and to extend mercy.” 89, 91

However the chapter on kindness convinced me that I need to talk to someone about some anger that has been seething below the surface over the past weeks.   Vawter says that kindness doesn’t camouflage anger.  I know the following to be very true, “When we suppress our anger, we may succeed in hiding it from the person with whom we disagree, but at some point it will surface elsewhere.” 113

Well, it should be an interesting week to see where the Spirit leads as I will be sitting in training meetings all week.  May I keep in step with Him!

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