“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” James 1:19 (NIV)
Shawn is a great cook. Most great cooks are messy cooks. One of his signature dishes is pork loin with garlic and rosemary. It’s delicious, but what a nightmare the pan is afterwards! One of our house rules is whoever cooks doesn’t have to clean. So the dishes are left to me the nights he cooks. I usually let the really greasy dirty pork loin pan soak overnight before tackling it.
I’ve learned to do that with my relationship with Shawn, as well. Letting things soak is the opposite of how I usually want to react when there’s a conflict or disagreement: quick, right away, whatever’s on the tip of my tongue. But James says as Christ followers the best way is to be slow to speak, slow to anger, quick to listen.
I’m an external processor and love to tackle conflict head-on. Shawn is an internal processor and needs time to think on things before discussing an issue. He also would rather let things slide, even to the point of letting them go.
So we found a compromise. Once a week, we meet at a coffee shop in our neighborhood.
It’s away from the house which makes it an objective site. It’s in a public place, so neither of us can get out of hand. It’s a set time – so I know that the meeting will happen and I can be assured that the conversation will happen. It’s also a limited time – just half an hour. So we can’t drag the conversation out or linger over one thing or another.
I make a list if needed. Sometimes I bring the list and skip over half of it because I don’t even remember what the shorthand phrase I made for myself to remember to bring up means anymore. I wrote the note last Thursday. We meet on Tuesday!!! BUT if there IS something important that needs to be said I’m more able to speak calmly in less of an attackers voice about it and Shawn is less defensive and clearer headed at 8am than he would be at 9:30pm after assembling the umpteenth dresser and coming home to a stack of unpaid bills. And…I get a tasty pastry and cup of coffee.
Artwork Credit: Amanda Weaver Design
About the Author
I’m a part-time working mom of two in my mid-thirties learning to be like Jesus in the big and small dailies in San Francisco. I have a degree in English (Auburn University) and a Masters of Divinity (Golden Gate Seminary). I’m from the South, but not of the South. I’ve traveled to France, Ukraine, and China and, on a regular basis, come in contact with all of those nationalities plus a half a dozen more at the playground seven blocks from the flat we call home. We are a part of a house church that began as an outreach to Nepali refugees.
I live in the grace and love of Jesus and live out, as best I know how, that grace and love to others. I love checking off a to-do list – most days that includes drinking (good) coffee, singing, laughing, and reading up on the 75+ blogs to which I subscribe. A great day would also include going to the beach, having bacon for brunch and ice cream for dinner.
I beg for God’s kingdom come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven – in my corner of the great city of San Francisco, as well as in all the other amazingly beautiful corners of the world – including yours, wherever that may be!