Now my natural personality type is one of spontaneity and flair and often have so many ideas running through my head that I want to action that can be quite inspirational in my view but for those who love to plan to the last detail they often look like a disaster in the making and cause them great stress and apprehension. As much as my natural strength was never to be the ground runner and be bogged down in hours of planning things right to the last second and doing the hard grind, I have been blessed by having people in my life who are pedantic about attention to details and knowing what the next steps are going to be. They like to get on with the solid work required to achieve things with excellence maintaining clear communication all the way and precise timings and they have not only alerted me to the relevance of these things but they have awakened me to the importance and the pleasures of having such structures in force in one’s life.

This week I caused some great upset to a dear friend and I am so grateful that they told me about the offence they had felt at my actions. If she had not told me how my going ahead of her on a particular issue had made her feel, I would have taken my happy go lucky attitude on the matter and never known and remained unaware of the gross discomfort and violation that this caused her. Just because someone has given you reigns over something before it is wrong to assume that they have given you lifetime access over the matter. There is nothing better than an apology that is sincere and heartfelt, it not only refreshes the victim but straightens the path of the offender in changing the pattern of their future behaviours. I began to think of the many offences people, myself included, can easily cause by putting people on the spot to bail them out of do situations regularly; on the spur of the moment; because they have not organised themselves well and never really check back to see how that situation affected the other person. They take no consideration to how they are making the person who they are dumping the issue on or the pressure they are causing them to feel and I see this happening especially in close relationships between husband and wife; parents and children and between siblings. Taking each other for granted and making regular assumptions that leads to a disconnect that brews bitterness, frustration and anger! When you learn to listen without being defensive; which by the way I would have previously done in trying to justify my actions, you not only strengthen your understanding of loved ones but it begins to mould and shape your character to be able to love the next person as you love yourself.

I began to look at that scripture in Mark 12 vs 31 that is one of the greatest commandments that Jesus said “Love your neighbour as you love yourself”. Now one crime we often do is to view things when we are treating others as we would view them ourselves. This view and outlook is not the same for everyone! Respect for one person may involve being consulted on a matter every step of the way, whilst for another individual it is about taking the mundane tasks of daily life over for them and just dealing with them without any consultation. To love an individual you truly need to have an understanding of how they perceive things and what makes them feel loved by you. Whenever you breach these boundaries with that person, in their view you are not showing them love but are actually causing great distress and anxiety. Well everybody is different, how can I learn what everyone wants you ask? Learn to listen to what that person is saying! There are many clues in an individual’s verbal and non verbal communication that alerts us to having either done or said something that in their view, has caused offence and is acting away from this principle of love. You do not have to learn everyone’s personality type and background or try to psychoanalyse them. All you need to do is to learn to Listen with an open heart of love, learn to listen with a view and aim of understanding where that person is coming from. Love covers a multitude of sins and in listening to HEAR, you can build relationships filled with mutual respect, understanding and transparency because that channel of communication is open, that channel that is able to build or rebuild that basis of TRUST again.

So as the weekend begins and we are going to spend some time with our families, friends and children, I challenge you to re-look those relationships that have become estranged and difficult. Put your guards down and take that scripture in Mark 12 vs 31 with you and try to LISTEN with the aim of HEARING! You will be amazed at the results and the reconciliation that will take place.