Richard Nixon was the 34th President of these United States of America. As President, he didn't fare too well, making a name for himself as the first President to actually resign from office - not really because he wanted to, but the mess of Watergate created the exact framework whereby he felt there was no other option. Although we always remember the negatives of his term in office, maybe we'd do well to consider these words he so aptly said, "We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another - until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices." Stop - listen - really hear one another. That is the essence of what he said - no voice needs to be raised to be heard - for hearing begins not in the volume attained, but in the heart attitude assumed on the part of the one listening!
One "hothead" can ruin a good thing all around. It doesn't take much to change the mood in a group, does it? The very dropping of a few words not thought through very well before speaking can shut doors, create chaos, and shatter dreams easier than we might imagine. The attitude of heart makes all the difference, not just on the part of the one attempting to hear, but also on the part of the one attempting to communicate. The room we make in our heart for God makes the difference in the "room" our heart finds for the otherwise "intolerable" actions and words of others.
The "room" we give for God needs to be foremost in our actions, which come from having our attitude adjusted by the heart of Christ beating within us. When we give him his rightful place, we have little room for unkindness, harmful slander, or even prideful boasting. The difference is that Christ gives us ears to hear and a heart to respond, not with anger or contempt, but with understanding and true desire to maintain relationship.
Over many years, and through many word not well chosen, mankind has built up walls that are now very hard to ever scale, much less tear down. I read a book recently about the bringing down of the Berlin Wall. What started as a barbed-wire barricade eventually became this formidable cement and block structure, complete with guard towers and a series of twelve checkpoints that kept people from passing freely beyond or within those walls. Effectively, this is what the words which are spoken in haste can do within our lives. They erect "prickly" defenses that eventually become formidable barriers, making it difficult for any purposeful exchange to occur.
As we begin our new year, let us consider well the heart we maintain, for that heart determines the ability we have to "hear" beyond the words! Just sayin!