Why is it so hard to listen? Yes, it takes focus. Sure, it takes some effort. But isn’t the other person worth hearing? Even if we are not interested in what is being said, it is important to the other. Listening is a gift we give each time we put down our phones, look up from our computers, turn off our TVs and simply listen. It is a gift we often don’t understand until we crave for someone to hear us.
Listening is especially difficult when what is being said is challenging. If we are being pushed on something we believe, listening can cause us to want to react. So often, we are trying to figure out what we will say back to the person, we haven’t actually heard what has been said. We just want to reply. You can see it people. They look as though they will explode if they don’t get to say something. Their blood pressure may rise so high it appears their heads will pop slam off. This is not listening. This is waiting for a moment to respond – to talk (or yell or insult or whatever).
Listening requires each of us to truly hear, even if we may find offense to it. One of the greatest privileges we are given is to hear someone else’s story. When someone has offered us the opportunity to hear, we should stop everything we are doing and listen. When a story is shared with us, we begin to see things in a different light (if we listen). We begin to see a different opinion and a different outlook. It may not be our outlook. It may not be anything we have experienced. That is the joy of listening. It can help us to understand in some small way where someone else is coming from.
Listening is hard work. It can push us beyond our comfort. It can makes us feel anxious or guilty. But it is worth it. We can grow when we listen. We can be transformed. And we might find God in the story. Will you listen to the stories today?
19 You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.
Photos included in Devotions are captured by David Cain – The Cain Gallery. Photos are available for sale by contacting The Cain Gallery