I'm going to get right to the point in this one because I'm sure you would like to know why on earth this piece opened with toilets in the title. I'm-a gonna tell you what relationships (any relationships) and a, um ... toilet lid have in common.
I am thinking about the propensity one often has NOT to curb the tongue in sensitive conversations. I mean, humans are widely known for not wanting to admit we are wrong. Let us, for a hot second, consider Jesus' art of listening:
"Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions."
Young Jesus was listening along with asking questions. Something I wish I could do more of instead of talking ... and talking ... and talking ...
Stubborn responses play a role in ignorance, right? For example, we all know children will often argue the silliest things so that they don't have just to say “Yeah, I was wrong." Soooo ... speaking of kids, or instead, speaking of MY kids, my writing about keeping one's mouth shut is inspired by the very same reason I tell my children to CLOSE THE TOILET LID. Hence the title (yeah, I have boys). And I have to tell them this all time time. I mean, ALL. THE. TIME. Haha ... sigh ... seriously guys? Again? And not flushed either??? Gah!
Hey, but let me tell you a little secret you may or may not know. Or maybe YOU already know this as you could very well be a better listener than me — deep breath. Okay, I'm just going to say it. I am really not TRYING to be gross! But um, did you KNOW that your poop flies around the bathroom whenever you flush with the toilet seat left up? It does! It mixes with small particles of that waste, shooting aerosolised feces into the air. Ew, right? I am not making this up. Really, really. Look it up!
Floating feces is why it is not only essential but EXTREMELY POLITE to close every lid on every toilet you use, especially at a friend's house. I am amazed that there are typically no lids in public bathrooms. But I digress.
So no, I'm NOT just talking about toilets. But yeah, I AM using poop (sorry-not-sorry) to consider ... words. Too many words at times ...
"A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?" - James 3:10-12, The Message
We all have experience filters. We interpret what is being said to us based on our personal experiences. Some people will consider the brighter side of an argument while others will see the darker part. Very few are TRULY considering both sides. To listen to others, and listen well, is an essential concern for your personal development. It allows you to expand your horizon and makes you a more well-rounded soul.
See, you already know that habits can be powerful. Emotions plus words can drown out reason and curiosity. Your interpretations, be it in agreeing or disagreeing, religion or politics - or even whether or not you think it is okay to leave the seat up in the bathroom, can cause someone to feel undervalued in their opinions. So let's be in the habit of keeping our mouths shut and ears open, so that any toxicity which may have generated there by the filters of your knowledge and experiences, is filtered out. Your heart is your own personal 'toilet sanitizer,' if you will.
"I've looked at love from both sides now From give and take and still somehow It's love's illusions I recall I really don't know love at all
Tears and fears and feeling proud, To say "I love you" right out loud Dreams and schemes and circus crowds I've looked at life that way."
Think about what could be 'floating around' if you DON'T choose to shut your mouth sometimes. And I'll do the same. The next time I want to say something to argue a moot point I'm really, really going to try to imagine a toilet lid ... slamming shut. I promise.
Do you think that you might benefit from this as well? Just a thought ...
P.S. I'd love to hear some examples below (in the comments) of WHAT IT MEANS TO TRULY LISTEN.
OH! And hey, quick P.P.S.! This little workbook, put together at The Scripture Scout, has some cool devotions in it. And it's really great for moms-on-the-go! Take a look and let me know what you think.