On Becoming Quick to Listen and Slow to Speak


Being quick to listen and slow to speak has everything to do with our willingness to open ourselves up to that which is around us. Listening is a commissional act of great vulnerability. The choice to listen is one that arises from an admission within ourselves that there's something in what's being said that we need to hear or that we haven't yet grasped or comprehended fully.

The act of listening is a practice of humility. Our ability to listen relates directly to how in touch we are with our deep hunger for God, our need to hear His Voice, and our desire to experience life more fully in our relationships with those we care about. Through stillness, we open ourselves up to God's soothing Voice (see Ps 46:10 and Je 31:3-5 and 33:3); the flourishing life His Words of order, guidance, and correction always seem to create (see Ge 1 and Is 55:10-13); and the wonderful things He wishes to share with us through creation, those around us, and His revealed Word (see Ps 119:18).

Being quick to listen has everything to do with our connectedness to the Love God feels for the people around us. God longs to hear from His children. Do you? To listen to another is to show not only great interest in what that person is saying but interest in who that person is. Many around us are dying to be heard. If you slow down long enough to attune to the voices of those around you, what you'll begin to discover is that what people really want is to feel understood and known. And to know, too, that those around them are genuinely interested in them.

Many have said (and I agree), "To truly know another is to fall in love with that person." And that very thing is exactly what all of us want ultimately: to be known and loved, and to have those we love "get it" about us. This is what everyone wants. EVERYONE. Even the most hateful among us. If you take the time to look beneath the prickliness and brooding moodiness, you'll usually find some combination of pain, rejection, lost love, and missed opportunities. The walls of unhappy standoffishness we encounter in others are only protective shells (a lot like scar tissue), and they're intended to protect such ones from additional injury, not from being genuinely loved. In our listening to those around us, we can, while staying connected to God, become conduits of the light and warmth of God's love. And it's that very quality of God that can melt even the hardest of shells and enable those God touches to venture out from behind their emotional fortifications and begin to taste the joy of living from a place of ever-increasing vulnerability.

Life presents all of us with many opportunities to see, hear, and touch those around us. For most of us, our lives are seemingly run-a-muck with missed opportunities. How much have you missed in your life? How much have you been missed? I urge you to slow your pace a bit and to carve out some time and space to enjoy the playful presence of the people closest to you. Sip, don't gulp, their soul's wine. You'll be surprised at what happens as a result.

God's peace, and happy listening!

 

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