I once heard someone say “we are never the villain in our own story, but we probably are in someone else’s.”
I have thought about those words a lot since I first read them. Lately in every conversation I’ve been trying to not see someone else as a villain or as a “them.” I’ve tried to be on their side and see from their point of view an react accordingly. So quickly we tend to turn a person into an idea. Maybe an idea that we’re against and fuel all of our anger towards that person.
But a person isn’t an idea, a person is a human with feelings and a story.
If we start to hear their story, their heart, and their passion – we will learn so much more about them. We are so quick to dismiss others based on one part of their character and I feel like we are missing out a huge chunk of humanity by doing that.
My life lately has brought some really incredible people into my life. The majority of them think differently from me and follow completely different life paths than what I’ve chosen. But it’s been the most beautiful thing.
Because at the base of all human interaction is this need to belong. This need to feel that maybe someone else just understands us and can empathize with who we are.
We don’t need to be the same race or religion to understand one another. We just need to be gracious enough to get there.
Grace has probably been my biggest teacher. When I feel okay enough to say, “I’m not right and I don’t understand but I love you and I want to” – the situation instantly takes a turn towards a more humble interaction. When we can learn to coat our conversations in grace and love, we begin to walk towards each other in a more beautiful way.
To quote my absolute favorite human alive, Glennon Melton – “Confusion is okay. It’s just there are different types of confusion. There is a gentle, open, soft confusion- and then there is a hard, closed, militant confusion. Gentle confusion says. “Wow. I can’t even imagine. I wonder….”Militant confusion says. “EW. I can’t even IMAGINE. I reject….” Gentle confusion is the beginning of growth and peace. Militant confusion is the end of both.”
I don’t have to tell my friends that I’m Christian, they know. They don’t have to tell me they’re not, I know. We know that while we don’t agree on the origins of life, we agree on the truth of the current state of it.
Life is hard. People across all religions, cultures, and walks of life know that. It’s a fact. Bad things happen, hearts get broken, and nothing is fair. Listening to another person’s story doesn’t mean that yours isn’t true. Your truth is yours and their truth is theirs.
Listening to another person’s story gives them the okay to walk in that truth more.
My favorite quote of all time comes from Marianne Willamson –
“As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.”
Often when someone comes to us with harsh words and feelings, we feel the need to fight, to defend, and to dismiss. But if for a moment we chose to stop and listen to what they were saying, to re-evaluate, and to be humble, we can learn so much more from them. Especially if this is a situation that you don’t agree with their evaluation of you, how much more room you will have to grow.
Listening rips fear to shreds. Listening to another person and validating their truth shows them that they are worthy. It shows them that they don’t have to be afraid of what is or what might be but they can have faith in what is. You are giving them faith in their story and you are opening up a free space for them to be honest.
Life is so hard. So many bad things exist and we cannot fix them all. But imagine how much better our story would be if we learned to listen more? If we became so humble that our need to be right was overridden by our need to be loving?
What a beautiful story we could tell and what a loving world we could create.
Thanks for listening,