Each and every one of us have priceless gifts we don’t often share.
Our experiences. Our perspectives. Our real-messy-and-in-progress stories.
Thus this community.
It’s simple: We crack the door of our lives open a bit and practice letting each other in. Piles of dirty laundry and all.
Because we aren’t journeying through life alone. But it can feel that way.
So if you’d like to offer the life-giving, powerful gift of experience today, the writing prompt is “Listen”.
You could share about how you were never listened to well, and how that impacts how you listen to others now.
You could share about how you listen for God in daily life.
You could share how you listen to your kids, or spouse, and the difference you notice listening makes in their lives.
You could share how you feel when someone truly listens to you.
Whatever your experience with listening… please share.
We need your story.
Joining this Link-Up Community is Easy! :
1) Simply scroll to the bottom of this post and click the blue button to add your own post to the link up.
2) Make sure to grab the “How I…” community button from the left sidebar and add it into your post, or use the link www.WhereGivingHappens.com so we can find each other’s stories!
3) Visit the person who linked up before you and leave an encouraging comment.
That’s it! I can’t wait to see what you share!
My Story: How I… Listen.
I think of all places, the mouth has the ability to spew the most vile, jumbled, toxic waste.
Sorting through junk coming out of others mouths (or written words) can be brutal, meticulous work. Many need counseling for years to process the sounds of spiritual and emotional death that were shot their way in serrated words.
Listening can be exhausting.
But if you know me — listening to others sharing their hearts, lives, struggles, challenges, fears and hopes is one of my favorite things. I actually enjoy the sharing, listening, counseling, fellowship, friendship and insight listening brings.
I’m weird like that – maybe because my brother is right and I am a colon in the body of Christ. One of my main functional designs seems to be the ability to deal with a lot of crap and extract the good out.
While there are many aspects to how I listen, my main focus is to discern this:
I’m interested in discerning what’s in the heart, because we are told that from our hearts spring our actions. Everything we do, scripture says, flows from our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). Knowing the state and motivation of the heart is also critically important to me because “People look at outer appearances, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7) I want to be like Him and turn my attention to where His focus is.
So… what dark is tucked away in those pumping chambers? What’s hemorrhaging? What needs to be drawn out into the light?
This is what my ears are mining for: The point behind the words. What do they mean? What is the person trying to express? I don’t hone in much on the literal words a person uses.
Have you ever had good intentions to encourage or include someone in conversation and ended up making a painful mess of the situation? I certainly have. I have misspoken many times and it has grieved me. God has comforted me that while I’m still learning how to build some word-bridges — that my heart intentions are good and that is what He is focused on. He is pleased with my effort. He is delighted with my motivation. He is honored by my courageous attempt to grow and stretch and reach for others to connect them with His heart.
I extend this same grace to others — often we misspeak out of the good desire to connect and communicate.
It IS important to be thoughtful and intentional with our words and we should strive towards that end. However– no one is going to speak what they intend to communicate perfectly every time. Especially if they are in pain or some other heightened emotional state.
I listen for the speaker’s pain. I listen for their unasked question (Do you love me? Respect me? What do you think of me right now? Can you help me? Will you go away if I push too hard, if I’m too ugly? Why did God allow this if He loves me? Why can’t I control myself even when I want to?)
It can be so hard to straight-out ask the raw, burning questions on our hearts. Those questions make our hearts so obviously vulnerable. They expose us.
When I listen to my family, friends, my children, or strangers… I want them to feel safe with me. It’s natural to draw back when someone gets close to an open wound. So I try to gently address and respond to what is whispering behind the conversation, rather than the loud in-your-face words. The louder the words the more closely I listen for the pain.
We share openly and freely with those we don’t feel judged by. So I try to listen in a way that communicates I don’t care a bit if they express their position perfectly — because I care about you much more than any specific of what you say. Your words are safe with me, your heart is safe with me.
So that’s the main “how” of how I listen.
Three more quick “how I…”
I try to keep some level of eye contact — especially if I feel it’s beneficial to say something in disagreement. I want the other person to know my words are flowing from a source of love. The eyes and tone of voice are powerful communicators to that end.
I try to ask questions — because I don’t want the speaker to feel I assume things about them or their motives. And asking questions also communicates that I heard what they were expressing, and not just nodding my head while thinking about my own response. I also ask questions because Jesus often did (and still does) this to lead people to the Truth.
I try to identify where I can with their expressed struggles — because though Jesus is my first love and I am filled with hope and joy and peace through that relationship, I am far from struggle-free.
So that’s my story. I’ve had the privilege of being a counselor for years, and I praise God for that because listening to others is a continual developer for my faith. So if you’ve been one who has shared with me — thank you with all my heart! You’ve given me incredible gifts, and I pray I’ve listened to you well.
Now it’s your turn!
The writing prompt for next Wednesday is: “How I… Approach Modesty”