I'm learning how to listen. Listen to my body. Listen to my children. Listen to my husband. Listen to my community. Listen to other family members. Listen to friends. Listen to the Lord. This year I learned that I do lots of talking and not nearly enough listening. So much so that God instructed me at the beginning of the year that this would be a quiet year, no engagements or speaking opportunities. This news was uncomfortable initially because most times when i'm invited to speak somewhere I am also blessed with a financial honorarium or love offering which is really helpful to our family. But God knows best. I thought about how much speaking I tend to do on a regular basis, particularly during prayer. I do so much talking to God, that I am really beginning to desire quiet time during prayer so that I can give God some time for Him to speak with me.
It's not so much that I or you are not listening well. Maybe we are not listening at all!
Sometimes that quiet time to listen to God comes in the form of writing in my journal; like I am writing down what I am hearing God say; after i've written down things I may be struggling with or curious about.
Active listening is a skill set and as a Victim Advocate I can't tell you how important listening actively is to survivors of interpersonal violence is. Actively listening helps the speaker to know that they are valuable and that the messages that they are communicating are equally as important. Listening actively requires that we are quiet, paying attention, able to share back what we believe we have heard and to respond if necessary or appropriate.
Being quiet while someone is speaking is not the same as listening. How many times have you been quiet while someone else was speaking but you were texting, scrolling your newsfeed, playing a game on your phone or tablet or getting some writing done while the person was speaking? Now you may have been quiet but that doesn't mean you were actually listening.
Whenever I think about listening I tend to think about Samuel & God. Samuel thought he was being called/summoned by Eli his guardian & mentor but he was actually being called by God. Once Eli confirmed that God was calling him, Samuel went back to his room and waited for his name to fall out of the Lord's mouth again. He heard his name and I imagine, Samuel sitting up in bed, getting on his knees or standing up in the middle of the room and responding in so many words 'I'm here God and I am ready to listen or hear what you have to say'.
It requires that we are in a position to hear. Listening to God is vital, it could save our lives or the lives of our loved ones and/or neighbors. Actively listening to God instead of worrying about how a task will be done can be the difference between being stressed out or being completely at peace in the middle of the worse storm.
I encourage you to take some intentional time to shut out the noise (turn off the TV, put your phone on silent, shut down the laptop and simply let God know that you desire to hear Him and that you are waiting for His voice. This takes some practice because we are so accustomed to speaking and paying attention to the number of things around us that can create distractions. However, I believe when we take a few extra moments to let God know that we are here and ready to listen to what He has to say I guarantee that we will be empowered, blessed, healed, and experience the power of His love and grace! And real talk God might just be waiting for you to slow down and quiet down just enough so that He can reveal a mystery or two that you have been curious about or have been stressing over.