Or rather, it often has been.
Before I get too much further I should clarify that this insistence on being the one with my hand raised is born of the best intentions. Well… at least I have always preferred to tell myself that.
I tell myself that I am just passionate about the topic at hand. Or that this is how I am wired; I process things by discussing them. Or that I am really answering because the person leading the group asked a question, and I cannot abide the silence and awkwardness the leader is enduring.
And there is some truth in that, sometimes a lot of truth, but there is also truth in the suggestion that my motives might be far more mixed than I want to admit.
How often have I really answered because I feel I have something to prove? How many times have actually I given my opinion out of arrogance or a need for approval rather than a desire to advance the conversation? How often have I spoken because I would rather be heard than listen?
And what has it gained?
Even if I proved my point – and usually I am not so delusional as to imagine my words have such force that they will convince everyone to agree with me – I really doubt that in doing so I would have accomplished something of value. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Because when I am always quick to answer, it shuts down the conversation.
Others lose a chance to speak, and I lose a chance to listen.
And I am sorry.
I am trying to listen these days.
Trying to be intentional about hearing the stories, and pains, and hopes, and insights of those around me.
Trying to repent, day by day, of the self-importance that says “I have nothing to learn from you, now listen while I set you right.”
For too long I cultivated that pride in my heart, that arrogant assurance that it was I who should speak and others who should listen, “but I was so much older then/I’m younger than that now.”