It’s Friday morning and I just arrived at the airport to begin my journey from Sacramento to Portland for an annual meeting. I’m looking forward to seeing my good friends who live in the Pacific Northwest, but the truth be told, I’m really excited about a baseball game that is happening later that night. You see, my Chicago Cubs are a few mere hours away from playing their first World Series game at their home stadium, Wrigley Field, in over 70 years. I grew up in the Chicago area and spent many afternoons after school watching the last few innings of the Cub games on a small, grainy black and white TV.

Now, years later, I live in the Sacramento area and so I was thrilled to see a couple fellow Cub fans at my gate, all decked out in their Cubs gear. Since I am usually surrounded by San Francisco Giant fans, and a few Oakland A fans, I had to show my solidarity towards my fellow Cubbie fans.

So I ventured over to where they were sitting, grabbed a seat near them, and told them that I love their shirts; followed by a “Go Cubs”. Yeah, it was probably a little cheesy, but what are you going to do? Their response was a little slower than expected, and I wondered if they even heard me. And then when their response came, I realized that one was deaf and the other could hear a little better, but still faced this challenge.

Over the next 45 minutes or so, we had a great conversation. We talked about everything Chicago, but mostly about our Cubs… and the awesome food. Our communication became easier and easier as the conversation progressed. I unfortunately don’t know sign language, but I was able to make sure to speak directly at them and talk with my hands when appropriate. She was able to communicate fairly well with the help of a hearing aid. Truthfully, they were an amazing couple with an amazing ability to communicate much more clearly than most people who aren’t hard of hearing.

Often times, I feel we don’t properly communicate with non-Christians. Unfortunately, it seems we are the ones often hard of hearing. Maybe we think they don’t understand us, when what we need to do is stop and truly listen to them. Where are they at? What sort of struggles are they going through? How can we make a difference? Are we listening to them?

We can’t speak our language and just expect people to understand us. It should be a conversation, not an argument to win. When we turn it into an argument, we do most of the speaking so that we can convince them that we are right. I believe we need to empathize with their perspective, even if we don’t feel it is legitimate. If we can find a common ground, we can then relate and learn. Once the trust is formed, we can then move towards an open discussion without judgment.

It’s not that we live in a world where can’t hear, rather, we live in a world where we don’t find ways to successfully communicate. Maybe if everyone became a Cub’s fan, communication would be easier. Just a theory.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” – James 1:19

Mark Etting

Author Mark Etting

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