When life hands you lemons, make lemonade! Have you heard this encouragement as the method to making it through your difficulties? I sure have. Problem is, I’ve made so much lemonade, I’m sick of it! I’m ready for a new beverage.
I’ve come across a lot of people who are really good at telling me what they think I should do. But here, again, is the problem. They didn’t take enough time to find out if they were a good person to be giving me advice, or if they had any good advice to offer. Ouch! And knowing how many times I’ve also done stings just a bit. They’re telling me the equivalent of “Make Lemonade.” But I’m the kind of person that has probably already made it. So, when I am frustrated, I’ve probably made all the lemonade, have run to the store, the orchard, and the cane fields, and am just plain out of lemons, sugar, and water! Being told to make lemonade is a bit unhelpful at the present moment.
I’ve also had the privilege of knowing some incredible active and directive listeners. I count these people among my closest friends and confidants. Why? And what do they do that is so great? I’m glad you asked! When Payton actively listens to me, she hears not only what I’m saying, but also my pain and my joy. She isn’t busy with her own thoughts and strategizing what I should do to fix this. She really hears what I’m going through. She checks in with me to be sure she understands, and then, she offers her thoughts (directive). She deeply cares for me, as evidenced by her active and directive listening. When I’m sick of lemonade, and out of lemons, sugar and water, Payton hands me a freshly brewed cup of tea for my soul’s cold day.
Why talk about lemonade and tea when we’re working toward understanding, reconciliation, and oneness? Because maybe you’re sick of making lemonade! Maybe you hate tea! But how would I know that if I take a cursory look at your circumstances, and then begin dishing out advice? No, until I take the time to really hear about you, how your family reared you, how your experiences shaped you, I will never know that what you really want is a latte – with piles of whipped cream on top! I may have to learn how to make whipped cream, but that enriches both of us – and who knows, I may find that I like lattes and whipped cream just as much as you do!
That is the work of understanding, which leads to reconciliation and oneness. I quit trying to insert my fluency into your life (bossiness). Instead I listen for your experiences (active listening), and then I may be able to bring my own perspectives as they complement your strengths and assist in your struggles (directive listening). The work of reconciliation and oneness occurs when we mutually offer this stance to one another. We each bring our beverages to hang out on the back porch. I share with you how I came to make mine, and you share with me how your recipe came into existence. We learn some new things, try out some new perspectives, and have a new drink to add to the repertoire. Lemonade, Payton’s tea, your latte…. Who else can we invite? Chai, wine, tereré, Club-Mate, Colada morada, beer, Qamar al-din, Chocolate de mani, egg cream, mojito?
Lord, let it start with me – when someone recommends ‘making lemonade,’ may I have the wisdom to know I’ve already done that, and the grace to see what beverage they may be making. Help me have the courage to really understand what goes into the making of their experiences, and the openness to see how those experiences could enrich my understanding. Once I’ve learned all the ingredients of their life’s recipe, help me graciously offer ingredient suggestions that would complement their flavor profile... And be open to the ingredient suggestions that compliment mine.
Author: Becky Miller, Mission1Race