September 14, 2010
The Gift of Listening
"I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.
Bend down and listen as I pray." Psalm 17:6 (NLT)
I was reading in bed one night when I heard my husband calling our dog to come get her treat. He was actually luring Chelsea, our thirteen-year-old daschund, to her doggie bed. She was sound asleep in her favorite chair, and nothing was getting her to budge, not even the promise of a treat.
When my kids came to tell me goodnight, I asked if they thought Chelsea had "selective hearing" because she didn't want to go to bed or if she was going deaf. I had a feeling it was the latter. We reminisced and laughed about how Chelsea used to hear every little thing, from the ice maker in our kitchen to the wind blowing a leaf outside our front door.
My son Andrew, who was nine at the time, looked at me with a concerned look in his eyes and said, "Mom, I hope when you get old you don't go deaf like Chelsea."
I laughingly told him it might be good if I can't hear everything when I get as old as Chelsea. She gets a lot more sleep and she's not offended by the doggy jokes we make about her old age.
My light-hearted response didn't wipe the concern off his brow, so I asked why he was afraid I won't be able to hear him. He answered without hesitation, "Well, sometimes you don't hear me now. Like when you're on the computer and I ask you a question. Sometimes you don't hear me."
Ouch! I had no idea my child thought I couldn't hear him. His answer almost plunged me into a bad-mommy moment with flashbacks from all the times I heard him but didn't listen because I was deeply distracted or listening to someone else via email and Facebook.
Instead of defining that moment with guilt, I pulled Andrew close and told him I was sorry for not listening sometimes. I didn't want him to fear aging might make it worse. So I explained how me being on the computer is similar to him watching a good movie or playing video games. He gets so involved that he doesn't hear things, like me calling him for dinner. He smiled because he could now understand my "hearing loss."
Still, I didn't want that to become my excuse. So I told him, "Andrew, I'm going to try really hard to stop what I am doing when you come to me, look away from my computer and really listen to what you're saying. What you have to say matters to me."
Today's key verse reflects our desire for God to hear us. It reminds me that in the same way I go to God because I want Him to listen and answer me, my child and others come to me because they want me to listen to them. When I stop what I am doing and listen, it tells them that they, and what they have to say, are important to me.
In our culture of constant contact through technology, it's easy for our attention to be divided and our focus to shift away from those who are in the room with us. Although we are physically present, often times we are mentally absent. At least I know I am. What about you?
That night God showed me the valuable gift we can give to our children, spouses, friends, co-workers and even strangers. It's the gift of listening. We give it each time we stop what we're doing and turn our full listening attention to them when we they talk to us. And, it's a gift God gives to us each time we talk to Him, too!
Lord, thank You for listening to me. Please help me be a better listener. It's easy to hear with one ear while the other is turned toward my computer, television or cell phone. I want to give the gift of listening because it communicates value those who want me to hear them. Make me aware and willing to push past this habit so that I can be a listener like You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
God's Purpose for Every Woman: A P31 Devotional By various P31 authors with Editors Lysa TerKeurst & Rachel Olsen.
Ask God to show you throughout the day how you are doing when it comes to really listening to those you live and work with.
Make a list of people you will give the gift of listening to this week.
Visit Renee's Blog for practical ways to become a better listener.
Take time to talk to God and enjoy the gift of knowing that He's listening with His full attention to you.
Psalm 54:2, "Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth." (NIV)
Psalm 66:16, "Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me." (NIV)
Luke 2:46, "After three days they found him [Jesus] in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions." (NIV)
© 2010 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.
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