Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Gift of Listening

Tonight I sat on my lovely backyard swing (a thoughtful anniversary gift from my husband) and listened to the grasshoppers sing and the tall grass sway in the wind as the sky slowly turned from a canvas of sun-setting pinks to a dusky grey. As I sat and listened, I realized what a wonderful gift I had surrounding me. I love to sit, gently rocking back and forth and simply listen.

As I think through my non-backyard swing moments though, which unfortunately fill the majority of my day, I wonder how good I am at listening. So often I find myself interjecting thoughts and opinions right over the top of someone else’s, running over words of another to get MY point across, MY voice heard.

The gift of listening is one I need to work at to give. But the work is well worth it.
When I think about the last time I was truly listened to and not just heard, when the recipient of my words was actively engaged in my ramblings of joy and sorrow, weeping and dancing, I felt more than just the benefits of a genuine conversation – one filled with trust and love and encouragement. I felt valued and cared for and important. Loved. And so, when these feelings fill my heart, I long to give that same gift of listening to another – to genuinely listen to love. Not to listen to stick-my-opinion-in-quick-here or tell-about-my-experience there, but to affirm and value and esteem. THAT is what makes the work of listening without turning the attention back on my worth-while – to be able to bless some one else simply by listening. To encourage and esteem first with my ears and then with my mouth.

I wrote a few days ago about desiring for my words to be Prudent and Purposeful. Today, I add to that… I desire that my listening be Encouraging and Esteeming.
I think it’s an undertaking… a constant dying to self for the benefit of blessing of another.
But I look to the Lord and His example

“Jesus [knew] the power of this blessing. He made a habit of bestowing it on the most insignificant, unnoticed people of His day. Jesus – the only true know-it-all to ever walk the earth, who legitimately had no good reason for listening to a single word from anyone – chose on many occasions to stop, to wait, to listen, to give attention to another before speaking Himself… He listened to the clever dodges and smokescreens of the woman at the well [John 4], He listened to Peter and the other disciples boasting that they would never deny or desert Him [Matthew 26], He listened to the call of an individual blind man [Luke 18], the accusatory statements of a discouraged prophet [Habakkuk 1], the delineated questions of a man suffering unexplained misery [Job 3], the whining tirade of a bitter, unbecoming man [Jonah 4]…”
 - The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer

By His great love He listens – to mourning hearts and joyful praise, to pleading whispers and thankful shouts… to look more like Him, I need to listen more like Him…

…To be a blessing to those who need a gracious ear and silent lips!

photo credit: govan riverside via photo pin cc

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