Monday, December 8, 2008

Is Anybody Listening?

In a culture of noise and soundbites it seems like everybody has something to say. We all want to get a word in or give our opinion to influence a situation or person. In one sense it is good to see people engaging issues in our culture and be willing to speak up yet I fear at times the goal is to get the last word.

I wonder, have we lost the quiet art of listening? This is evident in many contexts but we are especially susceptible to it in our marriages. When I feel misunderstood by my wife I seem to try harder to make sure she understands. I do that by speaking more and listening less. "If she would only stop talking I could explain everything!"

LISTEN: "Know this, my beloved brothers; let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger." (James 1:19)

It's amazing how much anger can be subsided by the absence of words. If your husband or wife knew you truly wanted to hear and understand what difference would that make? The anger and anxiety builds up when I know that after finishing my two sentences there will be two or three paragraphs in response!

Go and read how well Jesus listened and as a result how his words made an eternal difference. (i.e. the Samaritan woman in John 4)

I would suggest the next time you have a misunderstanding with your spouse, instead of getting the last word you take the lead to listen. Tell him or her that you promise you want to hear their concerns and that you will not respond for at least 10 minutes. This will give both of you the chance to prayerfully reflect on the situation and then respond with fewer words perhaps more graciously seasoned.

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