Changing corrupt communication to ministering grace–Elder Zwick

I just wanted to post some of my thoughts about Elder Zwick’s talk before I forget what they are.

Elder Zwick told an amazing story of their early married life, where they were driving an 18 wheeler over a steep path.  Their drive took place before infant car seats were required and before seat belts were a regular installation in automobiles and trucks.  His wife, was holding their infant son in her lap as they came over the pass.  Suddenly and without warning, the cab of the truck began to fill with choking smoke.  Elder Zwick was doing the best he could to stop the truck, but brakes alone would not stop a fully loaded 18 wheel truck and the engine was not working.  As the truck was slowing down and he was getting it onto the side of the road, to his horror, his wife flung open the door and jumped out of the moving truck with their infant son.  He panicked, but did his best to get that truck stopped.  When it was stopped, he jumped out of the truck to go and find his wife and child.  Thankfully they were both breathing, but her arms and elbows were scraped up pretty badly.  For a short while, he just held them, thankful they were alive.  When he could speak, he declared, “Why did you do that?!!  Do you not know how dangerous that was?!!”  To which his wife replied, “I was trying to save our son.”

He then documents how after several days of the ‘silent treatment’ (because each was thinking they were in the right), they were able to move past that place in their relationship.  He recognized, as he listened to her that she thought the truck was on fire and was going to explode.  Her actions, in light of her understanding, were the bravest thing any person could do.  He recognized the problem with the truck was simply electrical.  There was no fire and there was no danger.  To him, her reaction was irrational.  Then he discusses the need for each of us to put ourselves in the others’ shoes and recognize that their situation was not a matter of ‘who was more right’.  Each acted to the best of their knowledge to do what was best in the given circumstance.  But their knowledge and understanding of the situation was different, thus their actions were different.

He goes on to share with us how when we communicate with one another, we need to ‘turn our corrupt communication into ministering grace’.

He also uses the example between Sariah and Lehi to illustrate his point.  When Nephi, and his brothers return to Jerusalem to retrieve the plates of brass and they are taking longer than expected, Sariah complains to Lehi that  ‘her sons are no more’ and that ‘he is a visionary man who has taken them to perish in the wilderness’.  Given her level of stress, having just traded her comfortable and wealthy home for a tent and left the land where her husband’s life was at stake, to then send her children to return to that land, it is no wonder that she was more than a little worried about the welfare of her children.

I noticed as Elder Zwick shared his thoughts and insights about this story, that in effect, Lehi had burst Sariah’s emotional bubble by his response.  ‘I know I am a visionary man, but –‘

All of these thoughts, had a greater effect on me because it seems to be the lesson I am currently in the process of learning.  I have long been able to put myself into another person’s shoes and see things from their perspective.  But in my incidents with Ms. P, I have had to work at seeing things from her perspective and in many cases, I have had to pray for help.  When I have done so, I have been able to turn my words to her into ‘ministering grace’ and burst the emotional bubble that seems to be corrupting our communications.  When I have not, the situation simply explodes.  The contrast is striking!

As my recent words have potentially had the ability to heal our interaction and minister to her relief (I will not say that they have, because since she isn’t talking to me, I cannot know if they are or not, however, since the interaction ceases, I will assume they are doing the right thing) it completely dissipates the current conflict.  Poof!  Gone!  Just like that.  Where before she was in a fighting posture, ready to defend her territory against the awful, evil enemy (me), she just suddenly walks away from the conflict.  (Which in reality is not a conflict, it is simply a disagreement about how something should be handled.  I am really not that unreasonable of a person.)

I LOVE General Conference!  I love listening to the Brethren and Sisters and understanding how their words can be applied to my life!!  It is amazing the thoughts and impressions I have while they are speaking and as I reread their words over the next six months or so.  Simply amazing!

Currently, you can watch or listen to Elder Zwick’s talk over on this page  but the written address is not up yet.  Onto today’s teachings from the prophets!!!  Amazing! 

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