Listen and Love
I sat back down. And on and on it went. There was something about a generator and an alternator, a circuit board and a battery. This broke down and that broke down. This kind of talk hurts me. Actually feels like a pressing weight on my heart. I did stand up to walk away, but something made me stay and listen.
If we love, we listen.
The longer the words flowed out, the softer they became in tone. It was like they were being absorbed and cushioned in the sharing. It was so amazing.
I offered some responses and they didn’t cause him to close up. It was like the time I gave him to open and pour out somehow, through God’s grace, relieved pressure that had to have building for a long time. Because I was so afraid, so bent on protecting myself from things, I didn’t think listening mattered. Just because all those things were foreign to me, does not mean that they do not matter. Especially to him, the man I love.
If we love, we listen. One of the definitions for the word “listen” is: to pay attention. To pay attention is “directing the mind to an object.” And I confess, I had some attention deficit. “You do your thing and I’ll do mine.” Thinks the woman that has a listening problem. “I can’t fix it, so do I need to know about it?” Shame on me.
Jill Briscoe tells of a real life experience that taught her something about listening. There seemed to be a woman, very negative about a good many things, and it would have been easier to shut her out. But instead, she chose to listen and this person told her later, “Because you listened to me, I knew you loved me, and because you loved me, I listened to you.”
Now I love my husband very much. When did I start to think that he would just keep believing that, when the listening and focus of attention wavered a bit? When I thought I just couldn’t stand to hear one more word describing broken things that I have not a clue about or cared to learn.
You may or may not have a husband that challenges your attentive moments. You may have a friend that has taxed your patience with her problems. A child or relative that you think if you hear their voice one more time you won’t be responsible for the fallout.
If we want others to experience the love of God, shouldn’t we be willing to listen?
If we love God, we must love people. And if they equate our love with our listening, we need to do a lot more listening. If we follow Jesus’ example, we need to remember His words. As His earthly ministry was getting started, He asked His first disciples, “What do you seek?” He listened to their response and invited them “Come and see…” (John 1: 38-39)
Jesus invites us and instructs us to pray. (Matthew 6:5-13) And believe me, He has no problems listening, because He has no problems loving. He loved first. “We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) He wants us to cast all our cares on Him. (1 Peter 5:7)
If we want others to experience the love of God, shouldn’t we be willing to ask those open-ended questions and be more than willing to listen to what they have to say, even if it is hard to hear? We don’t have to agree in order to listen to their position and maybe, just maybe, they will feel loved enough to listen to ours.
Remember Jill’s words. Remember that one of the most important things we can do for someone else is to just listen, whether or not you will be able to fix the problem or reduce the effects of it one little bit. You will show them they are loved. Because you listened.