“Shrimp took a little longer. On our way soon.”
This was the text my friend Christina sent our friend Julie this past weekend. An innocuous little text. It was to help Julie realize we’d be later than we thought in picking her up for the wedding.
Funny thing about communication. Context helps a lot.
Our friends Jodi and Jeff were getting married, and I’d offered to help prepare some of the hors d’oeuvres for the reception. I was tasked with preparing bacon-wrapped shrimp for the occasion–about 180 of them. I hadn’t thought it would be a problem. The recipe said start to finish time was 20 minutes.
For a dozen.
Piece of cake. It could be done in no time.
Who was I kidding?
The slippery little buggers had to be wrapped with partially cooked bacon before they were then grilled. Making greasy bacon stay around an uncooperative shrimp wasn’t easy. Stabbing it with only one toothpick so people wouldn’t be picking slivers of wood out of their mouths wasn’t easy either. My two friends and I spent more time than we had in preparing the shrimp.
Hence the text. It was taking longer to make the appetizer than we’d thought. We’d be late.
We picked up Julie, and she looked at me oddly as she got into the car. I didn’t think anything of it till she asked what had taken me so long.
“I didn’t know Christina called you Shrimp.”
And it all became clear.
Julie had no idea we’d been preparing a shrimp appetizer. She didn’t know we were preparing anything at all. So when the text came through, she assumed the Shrimp was me.
Yes, I’m vertically challenged.
Julie had assumed Christina was making fun of me for being late in getting ready. She’d never heard anyone call me that, but it made sense since, of the three of us, I’m the stump.
She didn’t have the whole picture.
How often do I jump to conclusions, hearing a little bit of information and then building a response from that?
Being a rather energetic person, I’m often impatient when it comes to listening to others. Whether I’m being told instructions or someone’s story, I don’t always get the full context because I’ve not been a good listener
Which can be hurtful to others.
God’s take on understanding others requires us to listen carefully.
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19
I show value to others when I listen. I offer them the gift of my attention. In an age where so much demands my focus, choosing to really hear someone reflects that they’re important enough to me to be silent and let them talk.
The shrimp text was funny, and we all had a good laugh. It did make me think of how often I zone out to consider my answer or assume I know what’s being shared.
How many gifts of wisdom, insight and understanding have I missed by jumping to conclusions or not listening fully?
I need to learn to open my ears more and my mouth less.