The other day I snapped back a flip, irritated remark to someone close to me.  Ever do that?  Reflecting on it later I realized how much I still have to learn about practicing Stephen Covey’s fifth habit of seeking first to understand, then to be understood.  I’m still a lot better not only at prescribing before diagnosing, but at listening to reply rather than listening to understand.

Yet I’m not giving up the struggle and am grateful for my resources.  Before there were seven habits there was St. Francis’ prayer, which never gets old:

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

Beyond and before that are James’ words, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.  For the anger of humans does not accomplish the righteousness of God” (1:19-20).  I’m learning that anger is not always a bad thing and I no longer automatically feel guilty when I feel it welling up within me.  In fact, I’m learning to listen to my own anger and sometimes it leads me to decisive action.  Most often it leads me to discover a vulnerability or selfish assumption in myself I didn’t realize was there.  I find carefully verbalizing my anger or irritation to a loved one, friend, or colleague always helpful; spouting off always unhelpful.  Understanding brings the divine heart into view.  Spouting off not only blocks my ability to listen, it shrouds and hampers the righteousness of God.  Every time.

The only good thing about my angry snaps and spout offs are they remind me of how far I have yet to go.  But I am learning.  James 1 has never let me down.  It never gets less true.  I just keep going back to it and clinging to the One who gave us the truth.  Anyone else feel like that?

Please be patient God is not finished with me yet (PBPGINFWMY).  How about you?

Grace and peace,


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