Listening should be easy. But it is not. At a minimum, listening means that we have to be quiet. We cannot listen when we are talking. Not talking is the hard part. There are many reasons for this. We prefer talking over listening because it gives us a sense of control. We can control the silences between words by choosing when to talk. Since silences of even a few seconds can cause our anxiety to increase, we fill the silence with words even when we really have nothing to say.
It is a remarkable experience to have someone really listen -- to have someone's undivided attention and interest. When someone listens, they communicate to us on a very deep level that we are valuable. Their listening breaks our isolation and aloneness. And it decreases the fears which come when our thoughts and feelings are confused. Talking out loud in the presence of a person who listens carefully allows us to gain clarity and perspective. Gradually, being listened to can begin to convince us that we are worth someone's attention and worth being loved.
When someone listens with respect and acceptance we are comforted and consoled. Our pain is soothed. Our burden is lightened.
Thank you, Lord, for those who listen to me.
And thank you for the people who
trust me enough to allow me to listen to them.
Give me the courage to talk honestly.
Give me the grace to listen well.
Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan
National Association for Christian Recovery