The word for 2018 is listen.
Listening is something I struggle to do. Instead I am all about trying to convince others my way is right. And after all I am very busy working and driving and scrolling and swiping and eating and cooking and cleaning and exercising and writing emails and letters and tweets and texts. And snapchatting, of course, don't forget that.
But listening? No. Not to you. As if to listen to you, to really hear, would be to open the door to discover that I may not be right. I might have to consider your point of view. My heart may be expanded to see your heart, to understand your story, to empathize with your plight.
And that is exactly what I need to be doing. Hearing you. Listening not just to figure out where you are wrong and how to make my point and where to straighten you out, but just to connect, to relate, to enter your world. To incarnate.
Love that word. Incarnate. That's exactly what Jesus did. He wanted to listen to us, but in order to do that, He had to risk. He had to leave paradise. He had to suffer our world, our flaws, our cold and heat, our danger and hunger and pain. He wanted to touch us, and hear us, and walk in our sandals and hear us in a way to truly understand.
I want to do that. Listen. Embrace the risk to touch another's soul by feeling each pain, crying each tear, carrying the weight of your burden. To be open to be wrong, to changing my mind, to giving more grace, to judging less. To be able to confess to each sinful desire, each doubt, each fear expressed by you: me too.
Listening is power. It is like a balm. As Al and I do marriage mentoring, the best gift we give our couples is to listen to them, allow them to speak, help them to know we really care about them: what they think, how they feel, their hopes, dreams, fears and disappointments, all of it. It is like being Christ to them, to enter into their world, allow them to feel valued and loved. And in this, Al and I do learn to love them. I want to do this more, to give this to others and in return, we get so much!
|Mom was a interested patient listener|
Rose, my dear mother-in-law, spent the last few years of her life without speech. I used to wonder how my brother-in-law Joe managed to live and care for her alone when she never spoke. Now that she has passed, he told me how much he misses her presence. Although she could not speak, he could tell she was listening. And that meant so much to him, even without any feedback from her.
I want to be more like her.
Father, help me to learn to listen better, to desire to listen better, to not rush to hang up the phone, or switch the topic, or get up and do the next thing, but to intently and passionately listen to these others You have given me, be it my family or friends, clients or even strangers. Teach me to listen to them. Teach me to listen to You.
Everyone should be quick to listen... (James 1:19)