Posts Tagged ‘1 Corinthians 13:4-5’

Jo 17Sometimes it’s not so much what we say but rather how we say it that conveys our true feelings about something or someone, isn’t it? We can try hard to reign in our emotions, but, whether we are aware of it or not, those extraneous messages of ours can often shout louder than anything we say. Perhaps it’s our facial expression or some other type of body language that gives us away. Or, when on the phone, our tone of voice can also convey so much, in either a positive or a negative way.

Recently, in the space of about an hour, I had two interesting phone conversations which differed markedly, like the proverbial chalk and cheese. After the first, I felt I had been heard, understood and encouraged. After the second, I felt the exact opposite—ignored, misjudged and extremely discouraged. And this largely resulted from the tone of voice each of these ladies employed.

In the first conversation, the caller conveyed from the outset via her voice alone that she was interested in what I had to say and concerned about the issue I wanted to discuss. It began something like this:

‘Good morning. Jo-Anne, is it? My name’s Bec. I’m calling back in regard to the message we received in our office this morning. Now how can I help you?’

I like this caller, I thought instantly. Her tone was warm and caring and this continued throughout our conversation, as she questioned me more and listened patiently while I explained my dilemma. She took time to respond to my concerns, gave me the clear information I needed and, at the end, reassured me she would do all she could to help. Even more than the words she spoke, it was her kind manner that impacted me the most and still stays with me now.

The second conversation was just a tad different. It began something like this:

‘Hello. It’s Mary here. I just have this name ‘Jo-Anne’ written on a note to me. So what’s this about?’

I was taken aback from the outset at this caller’s abrupt, aggressive tone. I tried to connect with her in a friendly way before asking my questions, but to no avail. She answered in almost monosyllables, giving as little information as possible, then asked rudely if that was all. I had a further issue, however, and she grudgingly stayed online, but I could hear the increasing annoyance in her voice and sense her unwillingness to listen and help in any way. Now, sadly, all that remains with me from that conversation is frustration and resentment—and the need to forgive!

Since then, I have asked myself what my own manner and tone of voice convey in general. I know at times I too can become impatient—and I’m sure that shows. But I hope and pray I am learning to speak with much more grace and kindness, like my first caller did, and that my manner communicates something at least of the godly love and understanding we all need to experience.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

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Jo 23Recently, we were at the home of some friends for a birthday celebration. There were lots of hugs all round when people arrived and gave their gifts. But every time this happened, our hosts’ dog would bark and bark, until she was told in no uncertain terms to be quiet.

What could be going on in her mind to act like this, we wondered. Apparently, it is something she has always done from when she first came to them. We decided she must feel her special place in her owners’ hearts was being usurped. And, if they themselves hugged each other, then that was a double whammy! ‘Oh no—they always cuddle me!’ we imagined her thinking. ‘I’m the special one around here. They can’t feel the same about anyone else! How dare they? I won’t put up with this. I’m going to let them know I object!’

All up, it seemed this faithful canine friend was not into sharing her owners with anyone to that extent at least—even each other. It did not sit well with her at all. Rightly or wrongly, jealousy seemed to hold sway in her doggie heart and mind at such moments.

The same day I saw this interesting event unfold, I heard a sermon based on the story of Jonah. After being asked by God to deliver a stern message to the wicked people of Nineveh, Jonah sets out in the entirely opposite direction. He survives being thrown overboard, swallowed by a big fish and vomited up on a beach, before finally heading off to share God’s message. And, just as he had thought they might, those pesky people of Nineveh repented and God forgave them.

But was Jonah happy? Not at all. He was quite miffed with God for giving them a second chance. And he was even more miffed when the vine God provided as shelter withered (Jonah 4). After all, he was entitled to special treatment from God, wasn’t he, unlike those wicked people of Nineveh who deserved everything they got?

I have to say I have often scoffed at Jonah in my heart and been amazed at his selfish attitude. As if he were the only one God could possibly love! Yet everything he had was freely given to him by God. Anyway, what right did he have to tell God how to behave? Yet I have had to ask myself that same question at times, especially in my writing journey. How easy it can be to feel jealous of other authors and their successes! Yet why should God not bless them and give them fruit for their labours, as well as deep fulfilment as they write? I do not have a monopoly on any of these things—or on God’s love and compassion. I have been given much, grace upon grace. So I need to show that same grace to others, sharing in their joys and successes and encouraging them with a generous heart in love.

And I suspect that goes for all of us, whether writers or not—don’t you think?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

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