Don't Hear What I Am Not Saying

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, June 2, 2021 0 comments

by Jason DeZurik

Our society is slowly opening up after a year of much isolation by a good number of people. Even though I was told by many that this wouldn't happen, I think we can all agree that times have certainly changed. As connected as we are through the internet, it seems that society is as divided as we have ever been, at least in my lifetime. One way I personally see this on display, more than ever, is how so many people these days “fill in the gaps” with things they hear from others or how many now “read between the lines” and make assumptions of what they think they are hearing someone else say. It has been a huge issue in our society for years, but it's now becoming more and more prevalent in today’s world. Many of us just didn't know it how much of an issue this is, and I am included in that assessment.

I was first really exposed to this concept and the phrase of, “Don't hear what I am not saying” was with author and speaker Reggie McNeal in a two-year training through the Churches of God called the Missional Leadership Initiative. It was really quite eye opening for me the first time I heard this phrase. During a session, Reggie said this to someone after he had made a statement and someone in the training started coming at him with all these questions that really weren't related to what he had said or even implied. It was obvious that this person was taking offense or was taking what he had brought up very personally. They were taking what he said and were trying to put it into a specific situation they were thinking about. They were speaking out pretty defensively and being quite aggressive.

It was really masterful how Reggie dealt with this. He just said, “Don't hear what I am not saying.” You could sense all of us in the room pretty much breathe a sigh of relief as he took what could have been quite a toxic back-and-forth and just loved this person with such an easy phrase. “Don't hear what I am not saying.” He was giving this person a chance to really listen to him. He didn't say your concern is not real, but he was lovingly giving this person the opportunity to really hear what he was saying. In essence, he was lovingly telling this person that this isn't about them and their specific situation. At first, this person kept coming at him with some more points they wanted to discuss, but he just keep saying, “Don't hear what I am not saying.”

Personally, I think this is one thing each of us could really take into consideration when dealing with someone who is adversarial or offended by what we might have said. Do I think speakers are responsible for their own words? Well, of course they are, but the listener is also responsible for how they respond to what someone has said. Unfortunately, this can be a very difficult lesson for many to learn these days because of our fallen sinful nature. But I think it is a loving communication tactic that all Christians need to consider implementing if we are going to move forward together in society. And we need to mean it. I know I would like society as a whole to move forward with each person being responsible for themselves. Perhaps you don't agree with this, but I know I like being with and around people when we are willing to put biblical love in action toward one another.

Jesus reminded us in Matthew 7:2 that in the same way you judge others, you will be judged. I encourage all of us to speak the truth in love and don't take offense. Don't hear what someone is not saying. Truly listen, and if another does not want to listen, well, now you have a choice to make.

With that in mind, please consider the following. As many of you know, I cannot wear a face mask due to a medical condition I have after my life-threatening stroke and life-saving brain surgery in 2017. Yet I personally have been told by employees to leave a nationally known restaurant chain and even a large nationally known company I once supported a lot. (For those of you wondering: Yes, I showed them my medical note about my condition from my primary MD, or as I call them “my papers,” and they still told me to leave.)

I bring this up to say that when I encourage healthy people in 2021 to take off their masks and live their lives, don't hear what I am not saying. I am not telling a person who is wearing a mask how horrible they are or are judging them. I have no idea what their situation may or may not be. Just as I would hope all people would not have judged me for being unable to wear a mask, I would hope all people would not judge others who choose to wear a mask. Why? Because neither you nor I know their situation.

Could they be fearful? Possibly. Could they be sick? Possibly. Could they have a compromised immune system? Possibly. Could they be perfectly healthy? Possibly. If they're not you, it's really none of your business. This goes both ways as well, though. If you see someone without a mask on… Could they be a jerk? Possibly. Do they just want to live their life in liberty? Possibly. Could they have some reason medically that they cannot wear a mask? Possibly. Could they be vaccinated? Possibly. Could they not be vaccinated? Possibly. If they're not you, it's really none of your business.

Don't let The God Complex get the best of you. Now, go live your life that God has given to you, and if anything I've shared here offends you… don't hear what I am not saying.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.