it is easy to forget

We had a conversation tonight about a difficult book.

There were 6 of us, with different shades of opinion about the book. More accurately, there were 5 of us with different shades and one with a completely different color.

I was a good debater. I thought quickly about a variety of texts. I found myself engaging with great passion at a couple of points.

I’m not particularly happy about that.

I’m happy that I have the capacity to get passionate. I care fairly deeply about what I was arguing for.

But there were moments in the conversation that, as I was monitoring myself, I was starting to care about piling up arguments. I was gathering data and details and thematic sweeps.

That isn’t a good thing, not tonight.

The point of being a follower of Jesus is not winning arguments. The point is loving people. And I ‘m afraid, again as I was monitoring myself, that I wasn’t listening to a heart. Instead I was listening to the words and responding to them.

Heart listening is hard. In the heat of discussion, listening for the why of the argument rather than the what is difficult. It takes backing away, considering why a person would say something like that  rather than wondering “how in the world could anyone in their right mind think that.”

I have a rule of thumb in conversations: when the temperature starts to climb, stop and figure out why. There is often a subterranean heat source, that must be examined.

I forgot my own rule of thumb because, unlike my usual observer role, I was a participant.

We’ll look at the book next week. In the meantime, I’ll study, I’ll ask God for help, and I’ll look at the mirror.

After all, he wasn’t the only one getting heated.