In 584 words
I confess, when not reigned in, it’s my human nature to be as the one spoken of in Proverbs 18. 2 & 13; the fool who tends to be the ‘over-talker’, rushing in with advice and opinions; attempting to answer the question, even before it’s a completed sentence. As I’m daily reminded of my need to submit this character defect to God’s authority, this subject question, ‘why is it so important to answer not only the question, but also the questioner?’ has intrigued me and a topic I’ve been pondering for several weeks. This writing contest has challenged me to go beyond the intrigue and search out the answer.
A recent true story:
A friend begins to tell a story to myself and another listener, it’s a story obviously tied to an emotional experience. I observed the other listener and noted that even while the storyteller was speaking, the listener was formulating his own similar story. Any interest in the storyteller and her story, was now replaced with anticipation for his turn to talk and became obvious he wasn’t going to engage the storyteller with questions or validation. His words become visibly readied, as a racehorse prepared to shoot out of the gate the moment the signal was given. Go! He burst out and usurped the storyteller’s position. I observed my friend’s countenance. There was an obvious disappointment that her story, the experience behind her story, and the emotional attachment to it, were of no consequence.
Later in the same day, as I was contemplating the subject question, I revisited this above scenario changing up the roles.
A friend asks a question of myself and another listener, not just any question, but one that’s obviously tied to an emotional experience. I observe the other listener and note that even while the questioner is speaking, the listener has already formulated an answer . And so, it goes . . .
Any interest in the questioner and the question , is short lived as the listener is too eager to be heard.
-The listener doesn’t engage the questioner with questions or validation
-There’s obvious disappointment that her question, the experience behind her
-The question, and the emotional attachment to it, were of no consequence.
Throughout Psalms you’ll notice a heart’s longing to be heard; over and again David cries out for God to hear him.
I’m no different than David, I long to be heard, not just my words but my heart; I long to be understood and known. I’ve also been in the questioner and the question often comes from a place deep within, from experiences and preconceived notions that aren’t always easily communicated. And I know this, when the answerer isn’t interested in that deep place, it reinforces this belief - ‘What matters to me, is not understood by or important to the listener’. If I believe this – whether true or not - my tendency will be to respond to the ‘answerer’ in kind; I won’t be interested any answer offered.
In Philippians 2.4 Paul instructs me to “look not only to my own interests” (me answering the ‘question’), “but to also look to the interest of others” (me answering the ‘questioner’). It’s this looking to the interests of others, consideration and understanding for the reason behind the question, searching the heart’s longing, that answers the questioner.
And to our topic question - why is this important? Without this answering the ‘questioner’, a wall of defense remains that the answer to the question is unable to penetrate.