A powerful, thought-provoking insight....

Give me a well-trained tongue that has been borne out of silent listening in the sanctuary of my heart.

~ sevensacredpauses by Macrina Wiederkehr

Saturday, August 6, 2011


August. Around here it’s back to school time for our kids. One of the admonitions I always send my kids off to school with is “listen”!

Yet, listening is one of the most challenging aspects to any relationship whether it is parent and child; teacher and student; friend and friend; preacher and congregation; us and God.

The benefits to listening are innumerable! However, let’s look at a few reasons we fail to listen first. I tend to talk when I get nervous, excited, anxious, frustrated, unsure...you get the idea. I talk a lot! The first step toward learning to listen is learning to be quiet. Once I learned how to be quiet, learning to listen came easily. However, I still have the tendency to talk when I should listen so I have to continually monitor that within myself.

Listening is an important skill to build because listening is important to our relationships, to learning, to discerning God’s will for our lives. Listening is not simply hearing what someone else has to say. Listening is hearing with an open heart and open mind. Therein lies the difficulty. When we approach a conversation, whether with another person or in our prayers with God, in an attitude of “I know the answers but I’ll just listen to be polite or to be confirmed in my decision,” we miss the point; we miss an incredible opportunity to learn from one another, to truly hear God’s voice in our lives.

Listening with our hearts and minds wide open, opens our lives to untold abundance. When we listen to the people we have in our lives, we are sharing the gifts God has shared; when we listen to people who we do not know, we are offering ourselves as conduits of God’s grace; when we listen to God, we are the recipients of God’s love and mercy in ways which are unexpected, surprising, and incredible!

Do you have a hard time experiencing yourself as a gift from God to be shared with those around you? How about with being a conduit of God’s grace into the world? Seeing ourselves as worthy of being listened to is sometimes one of the most difficult aspects to listening, and another reason for talking.

Learning to accept ourselves as gifts of God, as conduits of Grace, takes time; takes a determination to listen to God and to those we trust when we hear words of affirmation, of confirmation. No one is perfect; we all make mistakes—yet God even uses those times and acts of imperfection!

When we have the strength and commitment to be quiet and listen, to receive the gift of God’s grace in our lives, we begin to believe God’s trust in us, God’s desire for us to be conduits of Grace. We can then begin to be quiet and listen to those in our lives who need it the most!

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