I believe that listening is a lot of work. Hearing is not so difficult for me what with my ears just hanging there waiting to catch all those sounds floating all over the place. Listening, however means I need to make sense out of what I am hearing. To do that, I need to pay attention to the person to whom I am listening.
I need to see their facial expressions and their posture. I need to note the tone of their voice and make sure I am making eye contact. I may even need to check out what I think I heard them say. All in all, I need to let them know what they are saying is important and I am interested. Then I need to act in some way in response to those words. If there is no reaction, how do those I listen to know I am truly understanding.
I know, these are all basic communication skills which I learned somewhere along the way. And they are not too difficult. However, sometimes I am just too distracted to give others the attention. There are other times when I am not in a caring mood and try to end conversations quickly or I am not interested in what others are talking about. I have found that recovery does not fix everything. I have to work to change the person I was and still am under the layer of alcoholism.
I need to listen to those who ask, “Got a minute?” Maybe whatever they wanted to talk about will only take a minute. But their approach of asking for some time shows some need for my attention. I have had those result in a serious discussion about a problem that has been thought about for quite a while and now this person has resolved to seek some input. I need to listen, not just hear.
I need to listen to those with whom I do not agree. Yea, this is difficult for me. I would rather be planning the perfect response that would show I am right. There are a number of areas that I cannot change my beliefs, such as with what God says. However, to be closed-minded to other ideas is a sign that I have stopped trying to grow. Besides, if I do not understand what they are saying I have no chance to get them to challenge their own beliefs. I need to listen, not just hear.
I need to listen to the dark. No not the dark side. There are times I lay awake at night and fret about things, even about not being able to sleep. If I listen, I hear all kinds of wonderful parts of my life. My wife’s breathing as she sleeps. The sounds in the house with which I have grown so familiar. Our dogs as they shift and turn, even the one who snores. (And one does it quite well. Not sure who he learned that from!) These are sounds I want to hold on to. I need to listen, not just hear.
I need to listen to my wife. Many times I do hear what she says. The listening part does not always follow. I love her more than I can describe. I need to turn off all the distractions when she talks and concentrate on what she is saying. I cannot rely on my ability to predict what she is going to say, although 42 years of marriage makes it easy to try. She loves me and wants us to continually grow closer to our Savior and each other. I know she listens to me, can I do less? I need to listen, not just hear.
I need to listen to all of my grandchildren. My grandchildren range in ages from 1 to 18. They are all so different and when they call out “Grandpa” it is sometimes an effort to pull myself away from those thoughts or activities I consider so important. In doing so I miss so much–their interests, their victories and struggles, their joys and fears, yes even snapshots of their faith. As they grow older, the “Grandpas” will grow less. And I will not be around forever. I want to stay a part of their lives. I need to listen, not just hear.
I need to listen to what I am told in God’s Word, the Bible. While I cannot really see him, his word, the whole word, gives me a perfect understanding of what God is telling me. I read in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” What a summary of the whole message of the Gospel. God’s love for us, accessed through his Son Jesus, for the purpose of saving everyone. I need to listen, not just read.
I need to listen to what God has planned for my life. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10. Good works come from the love Jesus showed by being born, living the perfect life I could not and then dying to pay for my sins. How I live, the good works, say thank you to him. I need to listen and understand his purpose for me, not just read the words.
I need to listen to what God tells me what I need to be doing with this life I was given. “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24. I can hear about the wonderful gift of life that comes through God’s Son Jesus. I can listen as he tells me of all the wonderful good works God has planned for me to do.
But then, to say thank you to what he has freely done for me, I act. I tell others, using whatever gifts he has given me, about God’s wonderful plan of salvation. And in doing so, I show I am hearing the word, listening to the message and then reacting in some way to communicate the most important message—Jesus saves.
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Ok. Last time I wrote “Time for Turtle Sunday” and mentioned I would share a picture of our turtles. Well the 11th was our Turtle Sunday and this is the result. (And being in charge of quality control I can say “Mmmmm.”)