I nodded and pretended to be fully listening as my husband shared a story with me. The truth was I was listening to the noise inside of me – “Oh, I forgot to tell him that….I need to get that done before bedtime….I wonder how much longer is on the timer before supper is done….”
What a wonderful gift we can give each other – to attentively listen to what is said and what is not being said. To listen with both our ears and our heart is to be fully present to another human being. People have a great need to be heard as a real person, a person who merits attention and respect. Tragically we miss opportunities all the time to affirm each other through listening.
The challenge today for you and for me is to evaluate how well we are really listening to:
• God – Is his still quiet voice telling us something?
• Others – Who right in front of us is begging to be heard?
• Ourselves – Is our body or our spirit trying to convey a message?
• The earth – Is nature showing us a need?
What is interfering with us hearing others?
• Our own egos – our chattering internal conversations, trying to outdo someone in a discussion? Listen to yourself listening.
• The world – the noisy values of a fallen world distracting us from the people around us?
• The media – the sounds of the news, music, and internet plugging our ears and hearts?
Verses to ponder:
Let the wise listen and add to their learning and let the discerning get guidance– Proverbs 1: 5 (NIV)
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19 (NIV)
Grant me, Oh Lord, to know what I ought to know, to love what I ought to love, to praise what delights you most, to value what is precious in your sight, to hate what is offensive to you. Do not allow me to judge according to the sight of my eyes, nor to pass sentence according to the hearing of my ears; but to discern with a true judgment between things visible and spiritual and above all things, always to inquire what is the good pleasure of your will. – Thomas A Kempis