Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Listening. A gift?

"...the greatest gift you can ever give someone is the gift of your own time..." - unknown

Recently I've been challenged that I need to learn to listen better.  Too often I'm quick to speak instead of being quick to listen.  Giving someone your time - a listening ear, can be a huge gift.   Especially in a noisy world.  Here's what caught my attention in one of the books I'm reading right now:
"Time.  Listening.  A gift.... It's true of any person who lends (their) ear to another individual.  And we are in that position every day - the opportunity to envelop ourselves in someone else's conversation, to suppress the clamour of our own thoughts and schedule, to focus our full attention on other people, giving them an offering of the rarest kind.  The gift of ourselves.  The gift of our time.  The gift of listening.  Think of it.  When was the last time somebody really listened to you?  Not the last time you talked but the last time you felt you were really heard.  It's highly probable that these two occasions were not one and the same.  You may not even be able to easily recall a recent moment when you experienced that special sense of knowing that someone was all there, all yours, intent on hearing what you had to say.  But once you transport yourself back to that time, seeing the attentive eyes of that other person, you'll be looking into the face of someone you deeply appreciate, someone who truly knows how to make a person feel valued and accepted, loved and affirmed.  Why?  That's just what the gift of listening does.... Most of the time we're so focused on ourselves and preoccupied with our own feelings, every occasion becomes ultimately about us and how we're being affected.  We're parsing what the other person is saying, interpreting as we go, trying to fix whatever problem (they're) presenting, jumping in at every possible opening with our own attempts to turn the attention back to us, our experiences, and our opinions.  Even if we have good intentions, even when we try really hard to make ourselves listen, we have a hard time keeping it up for long.  And every time our focus lags, we translate to the other person a disinterest not only in what (they're) talking about but in (them) as a person.  Truly, what we say by not listening says a lot." - Priscilla Shirer

I'm totally guilty of this and it's a quality in myself that I don't like and want to learn to change.  Sometimes we can be listening but not really hearing.  And that includes spiritually too - too busy or too distracted to truly hear what God is saying to us.  I'm reminded of when Jesus tells people "he who has ears to hear let him hear" knowing that we need to be reminded!  In learning to truly hear, we can become a better follower of Jesus, a more loving wife/husband, a more helpful friend, and a more productive worker/employee... what a huge difference such a seemingly small thing can make!


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