Man, I wished there was a silver bullet that I could shoot or angel dust that I could sprinkle to instantaneously change the hurtful, unhealthy environments in most of our homes today. I am sorry but there are no quick fixes.
James 4:1-4 reflects that Christians in the 1st century had similar, severe relationship issues also, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Christians were quarrelsome, discontented, self-centered, hard hearted, and unyielding. Sounds like us today!
Does the above biblical text in James reflect year current home life? Are you pleased with the atmosphere within your home? Do you feel you have a house but not a home? Do you detect everyone doing their own thing with individual agendas meeting each other only as you come in or go out the door? Do you sense there is one disagreement and disappointment after another? Do you feel a war zone needs to be declared in certain physical or emotional spaces in your home?
There is a powerful, insightful biblical verse that will hopefully grab your attention and clearly reveal the catalyst for healthy change in your home. James in 1:19 uses few words to make his point, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” James is emphatic! “Be quick to listen” meaning to actively listen to your spouse and kids. Do you want to change your family? If so, it starts with your ears not your mouth. Active listening is the catalyst for change. Engage each member of your family desiring to hear their hurts, frustrations, and perspective. The conversation is all about them not you. Your job is to active listening by mirroring, validating, and empathizing. You transcend from your thoughts and opinions to understand theirs.
Per the advice of James, you make another commitment. “Be slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19c-20). Refusal to become angry mixed with active listening creates a safe conversation. Let me tell you brothers and sisters. You create this environment, and your home will heal. It will not be overnight but will start the journey to recovery.
One other thing. You don’t go marching into their room with this new plan! You ask them if “now” is a good time to talk. If not, work politely with them to schedule an appointment. Remember, active listening is about them without losing your cool creating a safe environment to grow. Pretty much guaranteed, they will be rude and dismissive at first.
Proverbs 18:13,15 is a forceful statement for us to always keep in mind, “To answer before listening—that is folly and shame. The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.” To give an answer before listening is shameful and harmful to relationships. Healing starts with your ears not your mouth.