It has happened to most of us. Especially lately with all the political turmoil happening in our country. Someone starts talking about something that makes you feel really uneasy. You feel your heart beating faster and your blood may even start boiling a little. It may in fact really push your buttons. At this stage in the conversation you have stopped listening, because all you can think about is what you are going to say in response and how you are going to defend yourself or your stance…and most often you do not even allow the person to finish their sentence, before you interject with “But..!”
“But we have worked to be where we are now!”
“But I had nothing to do with it!”
One thing I have learned over the last year or so, and especially in the last few months is that something incredible happens on the occasions where I am able to suspend the “But..!”. Where I have been able to listen without defending, justifying or convincing. Where I have been able to listen without interjecting or trying to proof my point.
On the other side of suspending the “But..!” lies the potential to understand something about someone we would have never guessed to be true, discover points of view different from our own and the chance to have our eyes opened to realities that we never even knew existed. My deepest moments of repentance and growth happened on the other side of suspending the “But..!”
I am not saying that you should stop holding to your own beliefs. I am not saying that you should compromise on who you are. I am not saying that you should not engage in robust arguments and challenging conversations. I am not saying that you should agree with everything you hear. I am suggesting that we try and understand the things we hear… I am saying that we should sometimes practice the discipline of suspending the “But…!” and rather take a deep breath and listen…
(If you are feeling particularly inspired by this post, as a primer for practising this discipline, I challenge you to take a deep breath and watch this…and suspend the “But..!” for once: http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2016-06-11-watch-julius-malema-at-the-gathering-2016/#.V2eITjZCI9c)