I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m a horrible listener. How horrible you ask?
Well, for starters, I slept my way through college. One minute I’d be wide awake in lecture, excited that my determination to stay awake is proving to be powerful and effec— whaa?? When did I leave this drool puddle on my desk? Where did everybody go? Who’s that teacher up in front?
Story of my life.
A few years later I married the love of my life. We lay in bed on certain nights to talk, sharing stories and reviewing our day when all of a sudden, I’m being asked something like, “do you know what I mean?”– only to realize that I have absolutely NO idea what she means. I missed the last 5 minutes of a heart being poured out and I’m horrified to know that my mind, ears, and body decided to shut it down when they were needed most. Cue the first in a series of late night talks that end up in dumb fights because I failed to listen. I suck.
Fast forward a couple more years to the time I got into a conflict with a friend. Instead of really listening to her (yes, as you can tell, I am an all-star with the ladies) and dealing with the issue, I decided to inform her how simple our current problem was and in so many words, told her to “get over it.” I didn’t see the need to linger on a problem that had such a “simple” solution. As a result, our conflict lasted a few months and it wasn’t until about month 8 when our friendship finally started getting back to normal.
The key to this one? I finally listened. I listened and I gave validity to a pain that I didn’t understand. This created the bridge to change and healing.
I think we’d all be more effective as leaders, husbands, wives, parents, friends, teachers, pastors, musicians, and human beings if we chose to listen better instead of being
black and white
Because each person is different and the answers aren’t always what follow questions.
My commitment to journey with my friend in processing through our conflict on her timeline instead of just mine changed everything. Sure it took a great deal of pride-swallowing and just a bit of sacrifice but I’m glad it happened.
Sometimes you just gotta shut up and do nothing else but listen. Either that or be better at staying awake and engage with the person who needs your ear.