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Sometimes, I find myself involved with people whose behavior, words or choices make no sense to me. What would make someone say such a thing in this or that situation? What was he thinking? How can she possibly come to this or that conclusion given the facts that she has been given? Most often, I will then ask questions to try to “get” or understand that person, but even the answers don’t make any sense in my little world. If we can’t talk it out, where do we go then?

These are times when I find myself growing in frustration—especially if this is someone I truly care about. I can’t wrap my head around the invisible wedge I sense between them and myself, and it hurts. We can’t seem to find a place of agreement. The more I try to dig, the more confused I get, and the more defensive they get. How did it get thus far? Why can’t we all just get along? Can’t we just pretend to agree?

But life doesn’t work that way.

We don’t see eye to eye. My most intimate thoughts in the depths of my heart are the result of the foundational truths that I believe, the life experiences I drew conclusions from, the principles that I base all that I am upon. And that is why I choose what I choose, and say what I say. All of my conclusions come down to judgments built upon my perception of myself, the world and others. So I can look at the same situation as you do but draw completely different inferences. Therein lays the frustration…. And it gets much worse when I let my valuation of people be determined by their agreement with me. Who died and made me God?

The only way to truly accept a person’s very different view on the same situation is to begin by recognizing their value as a fellow human being. Period. No more, no less. Not valuable because they agree with me. Not valuable because I might get them to agree with me. Not devoid of value because they don’t agree with my principles. Valuable because God made them. That ought to be good enough.

My total acceptance of someone just because will bring me to the place where I am willing to listen for real. To listen from the heart with no agenda to prove or defend my point. To listen until I begin to have a sense of them. Until I start to understand what makes them tick and why they say and do the things they say and do. We begin to have a place of agreement in the midst of the disagreement. And that is wonderful.

This dawning happened to me last week as I opened my heart to listen with non-judgmental ears. And it was wonderful.

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