OH … You Mean LITERALLY? (Part 2)

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6:31

Loving those we find it difficult to love doesn’t always involve people who hate us or do mean things to us. Sometimes the people who are nicest to us are the hardest to tolerate. When Marty and I first moved to our “little house in the big woods” early in our marriage, I had a neighbor who craved company. She would “drop by,” sometimes several times a day, and talk to me at a volume I found myself matching as I tried to communicate with this person I was assuming must be hard of hearing.

Hard of hearing or not, I knew Vicki was lonely, and the Lord had been showing me that I wasn’t truly showing her His love. While I tolerated her constant visits, I had never initiated any contact. Instead, I got involved with my new community to a point where I was rarely home. It was easier for me to be involved with the youth or the ladies in the Christian Women’s Club than with this retired hairdresser that I had very little in common with.

While something in me really didn’t want to, I decided one morning that I’d beat Vicki to it. I would come to her house, show her the love of Jesus. No matter how loudly she yelled, I would sit and take it, I would smile and nod, and try to be the friend she so desperately needed.

As I left my house, not feeling at all ready for this visit, I prayed for God to steady my heart.

Lord, You know I don’t enjoy these visits with Vicki. I get stressed, and …

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” He admonished through the familiar verse.

I got annoyed.

I know, Lord, I’m TRYING to be nice to her! What else do You want me to ... ?

“STOP.” He cut me off, then added, like a patient parent, “You’re not listening to Me. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.'”

I stopped in the middle of the road and pondered what He had said. It was a simple concept. What was I missing???

What do you want Vicki to ‘do unto you’?” He coaxed. I sighed.

I just want her to speak to me in a normal voice – not shout!

“So…”

Seriously? I thought. Could it be that simple?

I knocked on Vicki’s door, and when she opened it, her face lit up.

“ANN! HI! IT’S GOOD TO SEE YOU!” she bellowed.

“Good morning, Vicki,” I said in a voice that was almost a whisper. “How are you?”

“Come on in!” she said – at a perfectly normal volume!

I was stunned. I didn’t know which surprised me more, that she could actually hear me in the soft voice I was using, or that it took only a moment for her to bring her volume down to the same level as mine.

We went on to have a very pleasant visit over tea.

As I walked back to my house, the profoundness and simplicity of the lesson sunk in. Sometimes I can overcomplicate things. But people really do tend to relate to you in the way you relate to them, maybe not always as quickly as Vicki did, but do we give up too easily? Do we assume that someone can’t be changed? We certainly can’t change them, but God can.

I’ve also noticed that for all my seeking the wisdom that can seem so elusive, the LORD will drop a nugget of understanding into my mind and heart unexpectedly – right after I have just obeyed Him! Before I had even finished walking back to my house, it occurred to me after all those months why my neighbor had the habit of shouting.

Vicki had worked in a salon for years, communicating with women whose heads were under noisy hairdryers. And if the majority of her customers were elderly, even without the dryers there was the daily challenge of speaking to the hard of hearing.

But once I had communicated in six words that I was not one of those hard-of-hearing, under-the-dryer people, she had lowered her voice immediately.

(As my daughter used to say, “DUH.”)

I chuckled at the memory of my long bouts with laryngitis, having no choice but to whisper. People would whisper back, until halfway through the conversation they would ask, “… Uh … why are we whispering?” I would laugh and respond, “I don’t know why you‘re whispering, but I have laryngitis.”

For the most part. people respond to others the way they are spoken to. If that is true with volume, it’s not a stretch to believe the same principle applies to the tone of voice. And if that’s true, isn’t it logical to think that if we just speak to others kindly, they will usually respond positively?

If we are being snapped at or yelled at for no particular reason, we tend to respond defensively. But if we will take it upon ourselves to do a “reset,” speak softly, calmly, – and yes, kindly – that response could change the direction of the whole conversation – even the relationship. As the book of Proverbs says, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” Like many Proverbs, this isn’t complicated, it’s just a simple fact of life, one that we don’t need to overthink!

I may not be able to control others, but when talking with another individual, I have control over my half of the conversation, and if I remember to use what control I have in a positive way, God might use me to let His love overflow onto the other person.

(I might at least avoid a migraine.)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we don’t know the hearts of other people the way You do. Help us always to speak others the way we would want to be spoken to, and if they are resistant to our message, rather than shout, we will leave it up to You to convince them of Your truth, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

40 thoughts on “OH … You Mean LITERALLY? (Part 2)

  1. I love the story and application Ann. It’s so true. I began to notice human dynamics more when I began to lead groups of teenagers on wilderness canoe trips. People sure take cues from each other without realizing it. Jesus sure did not take his cues from anyone but the Father. Getting woke up in the boat in the storm would not have had the same ending.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. There is so much wisdom in this post…
    Like you, I have often been surprised at the very practical “next step” guidance the Holy Spirit has whispered in my ear. It’s often happened when I’ve acted out of obedience – and done something I couldn’t always be bothered doing!!!
    Eventually we learn it is worth listening for that still small voice. It (or should I say HE) knows things we don’t πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for a lot of good reminders. I have to constantly be careful to put in enough time on a conversation to actually get to the point of understanding where the other person is coming from and what they are dealing with. The world is programmed to respond in platitudes and in sound bytes and that doesn’t cut it. My impatience follows from a false sense that the thing I am working on is “important”, though the scripture says it will be destroyed by fire one day. That person interrupting me, one way or another, is eternal.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow, that is profound, Jon! I am especially guilty of those misplaced priorities when a child is interrupting me. That video game he wants to talk about may not be important, but in dismissing what he’s saying, the message received could well be “YOU aren’t important.” πŸ’”

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I so enjoyed this and how to truly apply- β€˜do unto others what you want others to do unto you’.
    And the Lord dropping the nugget of wisdom right after we have been obedient – that is something we should never miss.
    Thank you Annie for this wonderful lesson. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I LOVE this story! Our Lord Jesus is so GOOD.

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you… I wonder if that will work with this wild puppy I picked up off the highway a month and a half ago? She likes to chew holes in things. And wake me up after only 3 or 4 hours of sleep. Grrrr…. I mean, Good Dog! πŸ˜€ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great part 2!!
    I notice when I get snappy with my children they’ll do the same…I hope your post will serve as a sweet reminder to me to β€˜do unto others as I would have done to me’…I actually just read this (Golden Rule) verse to my children yesterday in our family Bible reading plan..God is speaking to me.β€οΈπŸ™Œ

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m inspired by your initiative to go visit your talkative neighbor.. It’s one thing to put up with a situation that’s thrust upon you; it’s another when you invite the situation by your own action. Kudos, Annie!

    Like

  8. Great story, thanks for sharing! I find many of the “love” commands impossible at times. Appreciate this testimony of God asking if you and seeing you through!
    I needed this story, thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This was such a great story. Sometimes Jesus gives up helpful advice for things that we may not percieve are as important as others. Even in the small, Jesus is guiding us. Sometimes it takes experiences like this for us to take a step back and realise that there was a simple solution there all along.

    Like

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