‘Listen to Yourself’

Terry Walton



I Was Thinking…

My baby book records that my first word was ‘ball’.  Shortly after that I learned to say ‘dada’.  I’m certain by this time my mother was in a state of sheer frustration.  She, who fed me and changed most of my diapers; she who was the first to hit the floor in the middle of the night when I grunted a whine or cry…where was she in my earliest of words?  ‘Momma’ had to have come shortly thereafter ‘dada’ but certainly all would now agree that ‘momma’, above all other words, deserved to be first.  The good Lord knows I’ve called her name thousands of times across the years since those first words and she continues to respond in loving and affirming fashion.

What was your first word?  Learning to talk is an interesting experience.  I don’t remember much about it…only that I learned to say words and form sentences and word-gather further into paragraphs and language came forth from my lips.  I speak English because that is what my parents spoke and thus taught me to speak.  It wasn’t until High School and College that I learned the second language of French.  Parlez-vous francais?

I’m still learning to talk and I bet you are too.  We live in a world and nation that finds it very difficult to talk to one another especially around controversial subjects.  I’m afraid we are, by our example, teaching our children and grandchildren, how to shout at each other more than we are teaching them how to talk with each other.  I fear we are teaching them how to ‘talk about those with whom we disagree’ rather than teaching them how to have conversation with those with whom we disagree.

My mom used to say, to us children when we were being disrespectful of someone or something, “Just Listen to yourself!”  I find it a good thing to do on a regular basis…Listen to myself!  What are my words teaching those who are listening?

The report of ‘The Commission on the Way Forward’ is officially distributed in four languages as of July 31.  You can conveniently locate it on the North Georgia Conference Website at ngumc.org.  It is 93 pages in length and has received countless hours of prayer, study, discussion and soul-sweat by 32 diverse people appointed by our Council of Bishops.  I hope you will read it, study it and pray about it.  Our denomination is in a season of discernment regarding the issue of Human Sexuality.  We all have opinions based on all kinds of understandings of scripture, people and life-experience in our faith journeys.

My word to all of us is this…we are not all going to agree on this issue nor are we all going to agree on the outcome when the called General Conference of our church meets in February 2019.  But can we agree that we will not model the world’s bad habit of not being able to have loving, healthy and caring conversation around a controversial issue? Can we be people who listen to each other with great hopes of learning from each other?  Perhaps God’s most hopeful goal is that we’d grow deeper in our ability to talk to each other respectfully and learn to love each other even in our disagreements.  What a witness that would be to the world!

Wonder what Jesus would say about all of this?  Maybe he’s already said it…

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”(Matthew 5:3-9, NRSV)

Thanks mom for the advice!  I’m trying to ‘listen to myself’.

 Always Thinking…


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