Do You Really Listen to Others?
Do You Hear What I Hear?
A couple of weeks ago I began practicing for a Christmas program with a group of people from church.
How hard could this be, I mean it’s just a few Christmas carols.
I’m rusty and my vocal cords are less flexible than they were a decade ago.
But I’ve noticed an even bigger problem.
I am not a good listener.
Except to myself 😉
I can hear myself loud and clear, in the car, in the shower, or while rinsing the dishes.
Even at singing practice.
But the more the merrier! Right?
Especially for singing Christmas carols.
Two voices are better than one.
And ten—well, there’s safety in numbers!
The beautiful blend of good harmonies brings out the richness of the old familiar songs that tell the story of the birth of Jesus.
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Except, I think I’ve forgotten how to listen to others 😉
Now I’m wondering if there’s a broader lesson for me in this whole thing???
Even a life lesson—yikes, I have a complicated relationship with life lessons.
Kind of a love-hate thing.
So I’ve been trying to improve my listening skills.
Trying to listen to those singing the harmonies. Trying to blend my voice with theirs, to get our phrasing in sync, to sing as a group with one voice.
I heard somewhere that listening is one of the most important life skills.
We have two ears and one mouth.
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That anatomical ratio has got to be an object lesson from our Creator!
Two listening devices.
One speaking device.
OK, even I can grasp the significance of that.
So I paraphrased or personalized James 1:19
It’s God’s instruction to me—because He knows what I’m like and how often I blow it in this area.
Kelly, here’s how I want you to interact with others: be urgently quick to hear everything they’re saying, be super excruciatingly slow to speak, and totally, completely reluctant and disinclined to get angry with anyone about anything—ever. Got it?
Here’s that verse from the Amplified version:
Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving];
James 1:19 AMP
Whatever the state of your relationships—at home, at work, with friends—ask yourself if you’re really listening to the people in your life.
~ Listen for emotions like frustration, hurt, or sadness.
Before you speak let them know by your eye contact and facial expression that you’re hearing them.
Husbands need this from us. Kids need this from us. Friends need this from us.
~Listen for the good emotions too like excitement, joy, and love.
Stay focused on that person and really share in their good feelings. Celebrate with them 🙂
And put down your phone!!!
Don’t let that manufactured thing suck the human connection—the heart-to-heartness out of your relationships.
Here’s more about coping with the digital explosion that puts the world in your hands while it pushes the people in the room out of your mind and heart.
Do you feel a decreased, diminished connection with others?
Have your interactions left you feeling like you weren’t really heard or cared about?
Or, have you been the one distracted and disengaged?
Would you turn your phone off while meeting with a friend for coffee?
How good do you think it would make them feel to know they were THAT important to you?
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their prayer.
1 Peter 3:12
Father help me, help us all, to treat people with the love you pour out on us.
Looking into their eyes and listening with interest and compassion to their words.
Let their stories and struggles touch us, move us, or inspire and delight us.
Forgive our selfishness and fill us with Your love and ‘other-minded-ness’.
Draw them all in with love.
Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, the lonely and disconnected—draw them in and reach out through us to bless them.