Thursday, June 13, 2013

Listening, Really Listening

Hey Friend,

And God said, "Let there be light"...  (Genesis 1:3)

God spoke and in four simple words he brought forth light in the midst of primeval darkness; light that was necessary for everything He would speak into existence.

God did not go on ad nauseum about what the light would do.  He didn't pontificate about His whole creative process and His reasoning behind it.  He simply created and spoke everything into existence with just the right amount of words.  In one chapter, in one book of the Bible, all of Heaven and Earth were created and spoken into existence.

What can I/we learn from this? That we need to measure our words.  Just because there are thousands of words in the English language, does not mean that we have to use them all.

I had a teacher who once told me, "You have two ears and one mouth.  Use them proportionately."

In other words, I need to listen more and speak less.  Having gone through some very difficult times, the friends and family that helped me the most were the ones who listened - truly listened.

But, I'm a slow learner.  Now, when I'm trying to help a friend going through a difficult time, I am the first person to get on myself for not being able to come up with something profound to say.  My friend does not want profound, they just want me...silent, attentive, listening.

He who answers before listening - that is his folly and his shame.  (Proverbs 18:13)

Why is this so hard to grasp?  Because we are, by nature, "fixers".  And how better to fix than with advice?  We fill the gap of silence with "oughts", "shoulds" and "musts". - words that drag down instead of lifting up. few words need to be filled with grace and love.

He who loves a pure heart and whose speech in gracious will have the king for his friend.  (Proverbs 22:11)

How often, when I am trying to listen, am I really preparing what I'm going to say next?  Bev, get over yourself and bite the tongue in your brain and truly focus on listening and then, and only then, speak.  But, do not speak in haste.

Do you see a man who speaks in haste?  There is more hope for a fool than for him.  (Proverbs 29:20)

If this sounds like "Remedial Listening 101" is because I need it.  The Proverbs are full of warnings to those, like me, who can tend to run at the mouth.  Proverbs has a word for people who do that..."fools".

Okay, so I'm working on the whole listening thing, But what does God say about what I should say when I do say something?

An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.  (Proverbs 24:26)

Honest can be translated "truthful".  Whose truth...God's truth as based on scripture.  As much as I like my own words, only God's words offer life, healing and hope.

If you know someone facing difficult times will you pray this prayer with me?

Lord, help me first to really listen, to be gracious when I do speak, to not speak in haste and to speak only Your truth.  Amen.