Minister’s Message “ATTUNE”

Dear Holy Ones,

Relationship guru John Gottman says that trust in any relationship is built over time. Gottman teaches us that trust is actually a matter of how attuned (in synch, familiar, connected) the partners in a relationship are. He uses this acronym:

Awareness
Turning toward
Tolerance
Understanding
Non-defensive responding
Empathy

Trust building requires being aware of the other’s needs, likes, preferences, wants, desires, struggles and joys. Trust means turning toward the other when difficulties arise, not taking your ball (or wedding ring) and going home so as to give the other the heisman, the hand, the get lost, the cold shoulder -you get the idea. Trust mandates tolerances of the other’s imperfections. We are all incomplete and imperfect but if the other has to live up to your idea of what they need to do to be perfect, getting to trust will be difficult because the other will always be disappointing you. St. Francis’ prayer asks us to seek first to understand instead of seeking primarily to be understood. When there is a misunderstanding, lack of awareness, turning away, and intolerance we must do our best to be non-defensive when this is brought to our attention. Better to learn about how we miss the mark than to put up a defensive wall that keeps us from hearing feedback that might help us do better and repair hurt. Trust also requires empathy. The reality is, as a reflection question from last month’s theme on possibility pointed out, that both our loved one and our loathed one may be doing the very best they can. It falls on all of us to be as empathetic as possible, to try and feel what others might be feeling. When we practice empathy we are constantly reminded that others struggle and suffer just like we do.

Let’s do our best in this month to re-attune to each other. All times of change and growth bring with them so many opportunities for tuning out and turning away. Let this month be a time of turning toward each other in covenant and assuming best intentions. The future of the congregation depends of our ability to trust each other again.

Faithfully,
Rev. Tony