I am just a soul whose intentions are good… Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.
This is a memorable line from a song produced in 1964 by the classic rock band The Animals.
Such a true line for all of us. We are just souls whose intentions are good, and we desperately do not want to be misunderstood. What happens when the inevitable happens and you are misunderstood? Instant messages, e-mail, tweets, are all ripe areas of communication where someone can easily become misunderstood. Even two people face to face run the risk of miscommunication if they don’t practice good listening skills.
One of the skills that I have always struggled with is the skill of listening. I have been blessed or cursed (depends on your perspective) with the gift of gab / talking. But listening…not so much.
Even if those who know me struggle with believing this, I do indeed try to focus on listening and try to limit my words. I have to admit at times it does get away from me. One of the aspects of my struggle is the fact that I am a stutterer. I have written about my problem before…click on link<Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid>.
It is something that I have had to deal with my whole life. I don’t talk about it much because it is something that I have had to work very hard at not doing. I have learned to mask it even from my own family. Many times I have to avoid certain situations to keep myself from doing it. Make no mistake, I am not making it up (do your own research) it is a very real and difficult situation. Unless you experience it or have the problem yourself, you cannot fully understand the gravity and challenge it is to have what I have.
Let me try to explain to you what it is like to have this problem.
Again…I am a stutterer. Not in sense that I repeat certain syllables called “repetition” like “to-to -to – today” or carry the consonant called “prolongation” like “bbbbbbb butter”. I suffer from a problem called “involuntary hesitation” which basically means that I have to force myself to speak words or force myself to stop speaking when I am in certain situations.
Some of the symptoms of people who have my problem are as follows:
- They are slow or appear hesitant to respond to questions.
- When they do respond, they tend to talk very fast. The reason is because they want to say everything that is on the tip of their tongue before they “have” to hesitate.
- They often appear to be overly excited in their response to a question. Shortness of breath and louder than normal voice level is common.
- They will suddenly stop in mid-sentence and appear to lose their train of thought. This is not the case in most circumstances…they just can’t formulate the words to say it out loud. In their mind, they have already said it.
- They tend to repeat certain words or phrases as “filler” in sentences. This is done to mask the fear of “prolongation and repetition” of their speech. For example, in less severe conditions a person may use the term “like”, “you know” and “uh”. I personally use the word “thing” as one of my filler words. Don’t know why and yes, it is very strange. Most people either don’t catch it when I say it, or they act as if it is natural because no one has brought it to my attention. It took a recording of me talking on tape for me to really hear it for myself. Strange…indeed.
- They will tend to blurt out responses and interrupt conversations.
I am sure that everyone at one time or another has lost their train of thought in the middle of a conversation. You are talking and suddenly your words trail off and you have no idea what you want to say next and cannot even remember what you were talking about in or the point you wanted to make. My problem is exactly like this but it happens all the time. It never really stops. You just learn to control it at times. You have to plan certain responses for certain questions. It is easier if you control the direction of the conversation.
In a meeting where ideas are being exchanged however I am not such a good listener. I tend to get more excited about my own ideas while running the risk of misunderstanding the next person.
In the Bible when Jesus wants to relay something really important he makes sure he has attention by telling everyone to listen. Over and over again throughout the Gospels, Jesus speaks up and tells his disciples to listen;
“Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.” – Mark 7:14
In this passage He not only tells them to listen He reminds them to understand.
So as I go and practice my listening skills, I will pray that others are doing the same. As I attempt to not misunderstand those who I come into contact with, I pray they will not misunderstand me. My intentions are good, one day I hope to be understood. When I use this blog to share my faith it is with good intentions. I do not intend to offend nor do I intend to give anyone the impression that I am judging anyone else. The Lord is the judge and He knows my heart. My intent is point those who read what I write to Christ. I pray that the message of God’s love and His provision of salvation is clearly communicated… cause Lord knows I do not want to be misunderstood.