“Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear.” James 1:19 (The Message)
Several years ago God showed me I had improvements to make in the listening arena. I thought, though, I was making progress with positive steps toward seeing improvement. I realized this fall, though, that I’m not as far along as I thought.
Listening requires more than just our ears tuned into the conversation. Real, genuine listening involves watching body language, listening to tone, inflection and actual words spoken. Listening even requires some physical touch (when appropriate) from us toward who we’re listening to in order to let the person know we’re fully engaged. Listening is much more than just hearing.
This past fall showed me how much further I still need to go in this department. We had a bit of a rough start to the school year with one of our children. As a result, I was determined to answer the question why things took such a downward turn when they had been going so well. I thought I already knew the answer. I had asked and received an answer… but it wasn’t until we chose to sit down with some popcorn and “meeting milk” that I was able to realize just how much I hadn’t been listening. It was during this one-on-one time that I put away all distractions and truly listened with all my senses.
I saw the confusion on our child’s face mixed with some sadness. I heard the frustration in the voice because even our child couldn’t completely describe the feelings being felt. We touched knees as I asked hard questions and then waited for the true answers that took a little while to come. I listened quietly to questions being asked of me so that I could honestly and truthfully answer those.
That afternoon opened my eyes to how much I still need to learn about true listening. I hate to admit but since that time I still don’t reach the mark of true listening as often as I would like, although I hope I’m improving. I also realized that each one of our children are very different and each one need to be listened to in unique, personalized ways. While “meeting milk” works for one, frozen Coke’s work for another and something else for the third. It’s our job as parents to determine the best way to listen to each of our children and then make a point to let them know they are important enough to be listened to that way.
I learned a valuable lesson this past fall… listening is so much more than simply hearing.
© Cheri Swalwell 2017