January 10, 2019

Listen! by Sharon Espeseth

Listen! Unsplash Photo
Have you heard a parent say, or have you said this yourself to your children: "But you're not even listening to me!" Sometimes we might throw our hands into the air in frustration or for effect when our kids don't respond. I wonder if God ever thinks or says this about us: "But you're not even listening to me, my daughter (or my son). When we really listen to someone, we respond in word, emotion, or action.

My word this year is "Listen!" I have made a commitment to be a more attentive listener, to lean in and listen--

To God.  

I have written before of Julia Cameron's method of doing Morning Pages. When I do them, I value mornings as a quiet time for me and a good time to write. Does the following Bible passage appeal to your writerly self? God, through Isaiah, spoke to me. I listened. Here it is from The Message, as translated and expressed by Eugene H. Peterson.  

The Master, God, has given me
  a well-taught tongue,
So I know how to encourage tired people.
  He wakes me up in the morning,
Wakes me up, opens my ears
  to listen as one ready to take orders.
The Master, God, opens my ears
  and I didn't go back to sleep,
  didn't pull the covers back over my head.
 I followed orders . . ."

This past week, while the Norwegian and I were driving to Edmonton for an early appointment, we watched the sun come up. I "oohed and aahed" about the shifting clouds and changing colours as daybreak unfolded. When we got home that evening, I listened to "Morning" from Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg another good Norwegian.

Sunrise--Photo by Alex Siale of Unsplash

To Others.

One of the best thing we can do for someone is to listen to him or her. Lean in and really listen. Listening shows respect. It's putting down my cell phone or stepping away from my computer and giving someone my undivided attention. I am listening with love. I am listening to how they feel, to their body language. I am listening to what they might not be saying.

Papa and Lacey listening to each other
To My Heart. 

I plan to listen more closely to my husband, my adult kids, my grandchildren, my friends, the clerk at the grocery story, the new person in church, our priest when he speaks, our song leaders when they sing.

 It's so easy, however, to get busy and forget that I am entitled to listening time myself, time to enjoy my favourite music, time to write, time to laugh and play. Time to honour what is important to me. Time to be creative. Time to put those ideas down before they disappear.

Listening to my heart

Giving myself this kind of time is listening to my heart. I see I have some priorities to set and some time management rules to lay down. Dear Lord, I'm going to need some help here.

To My Body. 

I need to listen to my body. A tired body deserves rest. When other demands on my time and energy come, I need to know when to say, No. When I am sick, I need to take care of myself. This is true if I am feeling physically or mentally ill, as in dealing with depression. (I have experience, i.e. a "well-taught tongue" in regard to depression.) It is counter productive to look after others when I neglect myself.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the drive to the city this week when I could watch the sun rise. I noticed and I listened to to the sunrise and that instructed  me to listen to "Morning Song" in the Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg, which I am doing as I write. (Google this if you wish.)

I can listen to nature while walking outdoors any time of year. In the summer, I need time to sit under a tree or beside a stream. Did you know that you can "Improve mental health by exposure to trees and nature"?
Writing among the trees and overlooking the lake

This is the heading for an interesting online article on the benefits of trees and nature on mental health. (Look it up if your interested.) I will take more time to listen and savour God's wonderful creation that is here for each of us.

To Silence. 

In this busy world, do you, like me sometimes crave silence or go looking for it? Silence can be beneficial and powerful. Many people enjoy the constant buzz of activity and noise. I, on the other hand, regularly seek silence. Silence strengthens and empowers me.

Warning: If you are an appreciator of silence, West Edmonton Mall is not for you. If you have a migraine, do not go near W.E.M. No quiet places exist in West Edmonton Mall. I tried the mall once when I had a migraine. That day, I thought compassionately about the mall workers. The constant ear-splitting music. The thumping beat. The jangle of bells and whistles in the arcades. The water fountains producing thundering, artificial-sounding noise.

I need a certain amount of quiet, but too much silence can also be deafening. When my husband has been in the hospital for several days at a time, our home is too quiet. (For more on this topic, google "Listening to Silence"by Dr. Samineh I. Shaheem.)

Dear Lord, help us listen for the good stuff, avoid what rattles our nerves and respond appropriately to what you or others are saying to us.


  1. Sharon, I'm sorry you've been having blog technical difficulties. I'm not sure why that would be. I have not had any blogging issues in my corner of the world.

    However, I am glad you persevered to get your post up. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about listening. It's so easy to be distracted in our noisy world especially when we're online so much. I do spend some part of my day being quiet -- I call it my 'waiting and listening' time.

    Wishing you grace for the journey -- may we have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to receive what He has for us in this new year.

    Brenda xo

  2. Thanks, Brenda, for your comment and your positive outlook. Thanks even for wading through this heavy text. I have our friend Dave, computer tech, coming to have a look at things today so I'm hopeful. . . Just a beautiful New Year's wish/prayer. Back to you.

  3. I so love the trees too! A wonderful book about them is The Hidden Life of Trees. God made the world for us to enjoy and listen in on His wonderful creations didn't He? I'm sure your heart will fill when listening intentionally this year.

  4. Thanks for this tip, Lynn. We apparently share a love of trees, so this would be a good book to check into.

  5. Hi Sharon! When I was a chaplain in long term care good listening skills were of primary importance. On reports I would highlight "listening with presence." It meant my focus was on the person I was coming alongside. Yes, even "silencs" was a form of communication. At times it was obvious something was going on inside the mind or heart of a person. Your post nailed this important form of care through being able to listen. It is almost a lost skill in our busy and often impersonal society. Not to listen means not to care. Bravo, for highlighting this beautiful skill and art form.

  6. Thanks for your thoughts on this, Alan, as you certainly have experience in this beautiful skill/art form. I like your term, "listening with presence."

  7. Sharon, what a lovely post. I really connected with your concept of listening to God, to others, to our hearts, to our bodies ... and listening to silence. I agree that listening shows respect.

  8. Thank you, Jocelyn, for your encouraging comments. Speaking of respect through listening, I recently found this quote: "One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say." Bryant H. McGill

  9. Listen is a wonderful word for the year. And I agree, stopping what you're doing to give someone your full attention as you listen is so respectful. Did you notice that the words listen and silent are composed of the same letters?! :)

  10. Yes, I had read this somewhere that silent and listen have the same letters. It is a point worth noting. Thanks, Susan. I have also heard it noted that God must have had a reason for giving us two ears and one mouth. Another one is that our ears always stay open, whereas our mouth has a hinge for shutting. (Lessons Learned from Anatomy!)

    1. I have heard that as well (two ears, one mouth for a reason), but not the one about ears open, mouth shut :) Worthy points!

  11. Sharon, this is a beautiful post. What verses in Isaiah?? We don't listen enough, yet we hate when someone doesn't listen to us! So much here! Glad I read this.

  12. Fantastic post Sharon,
    I think if you concentrate on that word for the year and in those areas - God will be speaking to you big time.
    PS - some good ideas for everyone - especially me.


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