Monday, July 25, 2011


I often times feel challenged by the verse from Psalm 141:3 about asking the Lord to put a, "guard at the door of my lips." It's way too easy for me to speak or give advice than to truly listen.

There are times when I'm listening to someone (and that happens often as a pastor's wife) that I would rather fix them than listen to them. To me, often times the solution seems so easy! Yet, what a gift we give to one another when we "listen to understand" rather than "listen to fix." When a person feels listened to and understood there is a visual difference in their body language. The shoulders let down and there is often a sigh of relief. A sense of peace. To be understood is a huge gift!

When I'm listening to someone and they are sharing really hard stuff, I have to keep in mind phrases like: "Oh, that must be so difficult for you," or "What a painful situation you're going through, I am sorry." I've also learned a helpful question to ask: "Is there anything more you'd like to share?" (It's kind of like going through the Taco Bell drive-thru and the server asks: "Is there anything else?") It's surprising, how when given an opportunity, people will share more - and sometimes for the very first time.

Just recently I had a woman come up to me and share she was sexually molested as a child and that she had never mentioned that to anyone before. She took a big risk in sharing that information. Had I not been listening carefully I would have missed it as she shared it in a round-about way.

There are also phrases I am seeking to eliminate as I listen..."I know just how you feel..." "Let me tell you about the time...." "You're just being too sensitive." In a way, listening takes a bit of denying our self. Denying our desire to interrupt, and denying our wanting to give that person our opinion - when it wasn't asked for. Listening is hard and it does take practice, practice, practice!

My busy, married daughter, Mandy has two little ones and is working on her PhD program. 3 1/2 year-old Sam was trying to tell his mom something, but Mandy was multitasking. Finally little Sam came over to her and with both hands cupped her cheeks and turned her head toward him and simply said, "Mommy, you're not listening to me." Of course, my daughter dropped everything and turned her attention to Sam.

I wonder....does our Heavenly Father ever feel like gently cupping His hands around my face and saying, "Beloved, daughter, please listen to me." I really do want to listen more. I want to be a giver of grace. I want to be more like Jesus. How thankful I am that He is always listening to us.