The first duty of love is to listen. –Paul Tillich
Dan and his daughter Sissy had been clashing for years. He found her unconventional lifestyle just as outrageous and unacceptable as she found his righteous criticism. Round after round of angry insults, like buckshot, had riddled the self-esteem if both father and daughter.
Then they went in to counseling. In the presence of a third person, each of them had a chance to talk without interruption. In that safe environment, swords were sheathed, shields were lowered, wounds were allowed to get some healing air. Amazingly, they began to talk to each other without shouting or accusing, by listening, each began to see, if not agree with, the other’s point of view.
Dan had sincerely believed that Sissy’s manner and dress were simply defiance of his authority. He learned that her style had nothing to do with him. It was merely her way to fit in, to be part of the group. Sissy learned that Dan didn’t really want his own way so much as he wanted her safety from harm. He saw her far-out clothing and haircut as abnormal and dangerous. Slowly, as each came to understand the other a little better, they came to accept each other as human beings with different opinions, rather than as enemies locked in fatal combat. By listening and learning, they were able to call off the war and both be winners.
Understanding is a healing balm.