“I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—but let them not turn to folly…” Psalm 85:8 (NIV)
In What Submission is Not, I spoke a lot about how God has been changing me to submit more to my husband in all areas of my life. Another characteristic that God has been working with me on (for a long time I might add) is to talk less, listen more. To Bill, to my kids, to friends… everyone really. And I’m finally getting it. Still not doing it very well, but I’m getting it and I’m trying.
I finished reading a book that caused me to think long and hard. Maybe because while reading it, I had a conversation with one of my kids where I was trying to impart wisdom and the response I received was, “You just don’t get it. You’re not listening.” Our child was right – I wasn’t listening. I thought I had to encourage, support… all with words when what was really needed was for me to talk less, listen more.
During this same period of time, our community was dealing with two tragedies, days apart. One was the shooting of innocent people who were just out enjoying life while the other involved a little girl not making it home one night to enjoy dinner, bath and cuddles. Again, I felt I needed to comfort, reassure, impart wisdom… when what my kids really needed was for me to talk less, listen more.
The book I referred to above was written from a mother of a convicted killer’s viewpoint. She expressed guilt from page one through the last page at failing to see the signs of trouble. She explained more than once throughout the book she wished she had stopped trying to instill a sense of responsibility and instead listened… asked questions until her son would finally speak. While listening seems like it would be so much easier than cming up with wise words to say, it’s truly (for me) one of the hardest things to do.
One theme from the book as well as other various resources God has given to me is this: those around us need grace, listening ears, sympathy, empathy, and spending time together more than lectures, wisdom or daily life lessons imparted.
There is a time and place for teaching the wisdom we have learned, but I’m realizing if I spent a quarter of the time lecturing and imparting wisdom and three-quarters of my time listening, really listening, I think it would change the dynamics in my household, at my place of business… in the community.
And, God doesn’t usually just teach me these things to have better relationships with those I love. He teaches me these things so I will ultimately have a better relationship with Him. I need to learn to talk less, listen more with my Heavenly Father as well.
© Cheri Swalwell 2016