WHEN WE MISH EAR
I recently had a lady speak to me about her husband’s hearing. She was concerned for husband’s constant denial that he was getting old. Despite the obvious evidence to support her concern, he refused to accept that he was ‘not as young as he used to be’. But the evidence of his ageing was mounting! His exasperated wife had been urging him for months to get his hearing checked. When they both came and saw me and she once again related her concerns, but he laughed them all off. He then assured me that his hearing wasn’t really a problem, instead, the problem was that most people have not been taught to speak clearly. “They mumble!” he said. To illustrate just how common mumbling had become he told me of several recent examples.
One of these examples involved waiting for a ride-share. As was his habit, he was a good 15 minute earlier than the agreed time (because he always took pride in his punctuality, he told me.) He had taken his position at the agreed pick-up location. When the driver arrived, she called out, “Are you ready?”
“Yes” he replied, and promptly got in the vehicle.
As the driver took off and a few minutes into their voyage he noticed that the car was taking a completely different route than the one he would ordinarily expect. He didn’t want to question the driver’s navigational abilities but was becoming concerned. He made some vague enquiry about where they were going – to which the driver said, “That’s not where we’re going!”
“Then why did you call to me and ask if I was ready?”
“I didn’t! I called out, ‘Are you Mr. Reedy?’”
The driver then turned around to return the gentleman and collected the waiting Mr. Reedy who was surprised that his ride was later than usual.
As the gentleman told me this recent anecdote (and several other similar ones), I looked him in the eye and said,“I think you need to get some hearing aids!”
Perhaps I was a little unfair to this gentleman though, because it is a well established fact that all men are born with selective hearing (as every wife can testify to) and perhaps this may sometimes spill over into incidents such as the one I just recounted(?). But I also suspect that some women have a similar deficiency.
A few years ago the kids and I were a little concerned about Kim’s hearing difficulties. As it turned out, one day outside a shopping centre that we had just arrived at, there was a government sponsored mobile hearing clinic. We urged the reluctant Kim to go in and have her hearing checked. Much to the utter shock of myself and our children the clinician told Kim that she had “perfect hearing”! This then proved that even women may be able to imitate the innate ability of a man to produce selective hearing :). Therefore, there is a high likelihood that both men and women are equally subject to hearing difficulties.
The problem with any hearing difficulties is that it inevitably leads to the far more serious problem of misunderstanding. Misunderstanding is at the heart of nearly every relationship problem that anyone will ever face. Misunderstandings due to mis-hearing or mis-communication frequently leads to disputes that if not handled correctly, which it is mostly not, is likely to lead to relationship breakdowns. But there is a different – almost secretive – way to deal with misunderstandings. Let me explain by using several pictures that will make my point.
Both of these pictures illustrate what is often at the heart of mis-hearing, mis-communication, and misunderstanding. Both of these pictures have two different perspectives. They illustrate that what happens with mis-hearing and mis-communication is often a clash of perspectives. The solution might begin with acquiring hearing-aids, but more importantly it can be resolved by seeking first to understand the other person, before seeking to be understood. Interestingly, the Bible’s closing book challenges its readers to use their “ears” to listen carefully (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9). Listening carefully does not come naturally; neither does it come easily. It requires patience, conversation, and enquiry. It may even take a little bit of humility to ensure that we don’t mish-ear someone who was actually saying “mis-hear”. And, it may also mean that instead jumping into the first car that pulls up – especially if your surname is Reedy – your enquire, “Sorry, did you ask ‘Are you ready?’ or did you ask, ‘Are you Mr. Reedy?’” And if you follow this principle in your most important relationships you may avoid a whole lot of grief and discover that there’s often a different perspective that you may not have been aware of.
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.
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