This post is going to be short, because otherwise, it would negate it’s own point.
I’ve been ruminating on James 1:19 for several days now. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you why. If you are like me and cannot recall the exact verse according to it’s reference, I will spell it out:
“Know this, my beloved brothers; let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; ”
I will tell you that what struck me deeply about it is this: This verse is about having a conversation, within the context of relationship.
You cannot be quick to listen if there is no one who trusts you enough to do the talking- a conversation within the context of relationship. You cannot be quick to listen if you haven’t laid the groundwork for a relationship in which honestly and vulnerability play a part in your conversation. You cannot be slow to speak if you haven’t already listened- if you have no one who is willing to listen to you, or you have already pushed them away in your relationship. You cannot be angry, the root of the definition of angry, if you do not understand the fullness of the situation through conversation, through relationship.
We are called to relationship, to conversation- “with every person”. We are called to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. To be in relationship with someone, in conversation with someone, requires a great deal of effort. Of face time. It’s a lot of coffee dates and dinner dates- a lot of firefly catching in backyards, tearful struggles on couches in living rooms. We must do this. We must. We must start talking with people and not AT them. We must learn to do it because if we can’t have a conversation without getting angry, if we can’t enter relationship, and then conversation with people who are different than us, if we can’t be willing to meet them at Starbucks and hold their hand as they cry instead of blasting them on some social media site, we surely can’t learn to love them.
And then we’ve really lost sight of who we are.