To hear someone is to offer your time and attention. To really listen takes effort. It takes concentration and focus on what is being said. It is often more about what is left unsaid that speaks the loudest. We can hear fear in someone’s voice even when words of courage are spoken. We can hear hurt come through even when all seems to be okay. To hear someone is a gift we do not offer often enough. Yet, it is one of the greatest gifts we could present to another person. So many times, anger and hurt and fear come out in different ways because people feel unheard.
Today, I challenge you to offer someone this gift. It doesn’t cost you anything except your time and your attention. I do understand time is precious. But this will be worth it. Offer someone the gift of hearing them. Listen to what they tell you. It may be a really general conversation, but give them your undivided attention. That means putting down the phones. It means turning off all the distractions. It also means listening without thinking of how you will respond. Sometimes we listen to just enough so we can tell our story. We don’t let the other person finish before we want to tell them what happened to us. We listen just to interject what we think they should do or how we feel about the situation. This is not listening. Today, simply listen. No response is needed – and actually no response is preferred. This is not about us. We are not there to fix or solve or change anything. We are simply there to offer the gift of hearing someone else.
You may find this challenging – but give it a chance. It may feel uncomfortable because we don’t always want to hear what someone else is offering. It can feel restrictive because we have so much to say. But giving someone the gift of listening can be one of the most powerful things we can do today. We all want to be heard. Today may be the day to simply listen.
16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
Photos included in Devotions are captured by David Cain – The Cain Gallery. Photos are available for sale by contacting The Cain Gallery