If I don’t have love I am only a clanging cymbal

I think I sounded suspiciously like a clanging cymbal recently. Someone came to me with a question. It seemed a simple issue and I responded to it in a fairly direct manner. Frankly, I was less patient and kind than I might have been. Unfortunately, although I’d answered her question, she went away feeling like she’d been told off. My clanging cymbal was reverberating in her ears.

I could see that she was flustered because the situation was outside of her normal experience, but I discounted it because I didn’t think the issue was significant. By doing that I actually made the issue more important than the person. She needed understanding and reassurance, not just information. In that moment I didn’t treat her with love.

And if I didn’t love her – didn’t really see her, understand her, respond to her need and not just her question – it doesn’t matter how good my answer was, I might as well have saved my breath.

If I’d acknowledged how she was feeling first, then we might have had a more productive conversation, and she might have gone away feeling helped rather than hurt. So the next time I find myself in a similar situation I want to pay attention to the person, and respond with love.

 1 If I speak in human or angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:1-7 TNIV)

Have you ever been a clanging cymbal? What would you do differently in the future?

Image courtesy of bigdrumthump | www.flickr.com

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