I thrilled at the following quote by Madeleine L’Engle because of its timeliness for me:
When the words mean even more than the writer knew they meant, then the writer has been listening. And sometimes when we listen, we are led into places we do not expect, into adventures we do not always understand.
I’m on a quest. It’s been a longstanding goal of mine to be a good listener. So far, I’m a bit better at it than I was. However, I’ve noticed that whenever I have a self-improvement goal, the first thing that happens is I seem to get worse before making progress. I suspect it’s because I’m becoming more aware of my weaknesses and lack of skill in that area. Focusing on being a better listener opened my eyes before it opened my ears. Thankfully, I haven’t given up. I remember going through the one-step-forward-and-three-steps-back conundrum when I strove to be a more loving and respectful wife. Craving genuine growth is humbling. Desire awakens us. This is good.
Our intensified awareness of our needs propels us to improve. I imagine the accuser of the brethren hopes we’ll get discouraged and give up—especially if our desire is to be a better listener.
Listening leads to learning. Nowhere is this truer than when we listen to God’s Word and to the Holy Spirit. Listening means setting our own thoughts aside. It means entering the world of the speaker and being still. When we’re still long enough, the one speaking is given audience long enough to tap into deeper thoughts and ideas. Silence sets the stage for bigger words, rather than just small talk.
I’ve written several blog posts about what happens when we wait for five seconds of silence after someone has spoken to us. I have been blessed by the words of others when I do this. When we give the gift of deep listening, we are given the gift of intimacy with the speaker. Profound thoughts and revelations are conceived in silent pauses. Adventures happen in these wide-open spaces that otherwise would have been missed because we jumped in with our own words instead of waiting for five more seconds to hear what may be said next.
When we practice good listening, we make it safe for others to share their heart’s desires, their fears, and their true selves. That’s the power of listening.
I’m nosy-to-know if you would like to accept the dare to listen for five more seconds after someone speaks to you? Please let me know how it went.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, ... James 1:19 NIV
Blessings ~ Wendy Mac