Drats. It’s like the hardest skill to master. The Word admonishes us to be quick to listen. QUICK to listen. How many of us are good at that? Many are quiet but that doesn’t mean that they are listening. They can be lost in their own thoughts. I used to do that a lot. I’d be listening to someone tell me their heart and my thoughts would be on lunch or a tooth that was bothering me or anything; random thoughts that had nothing to do with what the person I was listening to was saying.
I’m not sure how it happened but I came to a place where I was down right disgusted with how I chose to listen. I wanted to be present and engaged and I really wanted to know about whatever it was that the person was talking about. I had been so good at dissociation that I did it everywhere with everyone. I gleaned only what I wanted to from every encounter I came across.
At first it was really difficult to listen to other people share their hearts. All of the details needed to be heard and I had been so reckless with the hearts who had trusted me with their deepest issues. They didn’t have to worry about me telling anyone what they had said because I didn’t know what their problems were! Crazy. But as I practiced the art of listening I found that my relationships with the people I spoke with became richer and deeper. In some ways I wonder now if that was one of the things that I was avoiding…didn’t want to get too close to others you know. My wall was pretty high, pretty shallow thinking and insecure.
Regardless, my whole life changed once I started listening. I had a closer walk with all of the people in my life and I had a vested interest in what my friends had going on in their lives. I also had a closer walk with the Lord. This whole listening thing helped to keep the clutter from flying around in my brain enabling me to hear the Holy Spirit when He spoke with me.
I still struggle with just sitting still and not saying a thing. I don’t need to talk. I don’t need to be the one in charge. I am able to enjoy hearing what other people have to say. I learn so much by just being still and just being quiet and although I had heard from the Lord before a number of times now I am able to discern the Holy Spirits unction because it’s not overshadowed by all of the static that has been in my head when I wasn’t willing to listen. I just didn’t know how.
We have a tendency to get down on ourselves when we don’t do well at things. When we come to realize that we have been a cruddy listener all of our lives it can really be a sucker punch. It was for me anyway. I was devastated to realize that I had been appearing to be a very good friend when in fact I wasn’t a good friend at all. How we listen to people tells them what we think about them. We all know what it feels like to be ignored. I imagine that most of us know what it feels like to be misunderstood. I’m pretty sure that most of us have been hurt when we realized that the person we though we were sharing our hearts with hadn’t heard a darn thing…not a thing.
I know that I was an excellent fake listener. I nodded and responded at just the right times…and now I use eye contact and repeating what I’ve been told to help me stay focused and for me to help the one I am listening to know that I am listening. But how do I let God know I’m listening to Him? Do what He tells me to do. Utilize what He is inspiring me to utilize in scripture. Don’t shrink back from the call that He is placing upon my heart. Don’t be afraid even when it seems insane to follow through. Usually the things that God is going to call us to do won’t make a lick of sense and yet when we obey, the flood gates open and He starts raining down His power and spirit in ways we couldn’t even imagine of before. Then it’s a matter of staying on task so we don’t miss out on whatever it is that the Lord is teaching us through the experience.
I don’t ever want to stop learning and growing in Christ. Only in Him can we live and move and really have our being. To enter into the most productive kind of learning, practice listening and He will bring you to a new sense of being that will blow your mind.
James 1:19 – Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;