LISTEN

Jim Ferry   -  

Lord,

Help us not to talk too much
because talking too much
is like driving too fast.

Sometimes the brakes are not good
and we pass by the place where
we intended to stop.

– Haitian Proverb

To be a better listener!  That’s my goal this fall: to pay attention and to really hear, to take the time to sit with others and see, and understand and comprehend. To be a better listener! I need to be intentional about leaving behind my busy schedule and anxious agenda. I need to better perceive and discern, give ear to and take to heart what others are saying – picking up on not only the words they are saying but the emotions and the feelings behind them. I need to be a better listener. We all do in these anxious, strife-ridden times when people talk too much and the brakes may not be good, and where we pass by the place we intended to stop.
“We find ourselves in such acutely anxious times,” writes the Family Systems theorist Peter Steinke, “and the mood consumes us.” Already I find myself taken aback by the harsh vitriol of this fall’s election season commercials on tv. So, who wants to watch the news? And, we’ve still got two months to go, while the relentless grind of the “culture wars” eats at our communities, tears at our families, and undermines the unity of the church. We talk at each other, not to and with and for each other. I know I’ve been guilty. But now I need to stop that. How easily we fall into the traps of finger-pointing and blaming, of “search and destroy” missions insisting on our own way and trying to impose our will on others. I need to stop that. We all do. We need to listen.
That’s my goal, my dream for this fall; to live out the words of James 1:19, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger”, Or, to put that another way, to pray with the Psalmist, “set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3).
It is a joy for me still to have the privilege of sharing in the joys and the sorrows, the hopes and the dreams, the fears and the failures, the struggles and the victories of so many in our church. I regret those times I may have talked too much. I treasure the times though I have truly listened – all the things I have learned and come to understand and been blessed by as you took the time to share with me. Think of all the things I might have missed if I hadn’t kept my mouth shut! Think of all the gifts and joys in life we might miss if we fail to listen and hear and understand! So, be attentive, lend an ear, keep your hearts and minds open, and who knows the things you and I might learn, what new insights we might perceive and finally grasp. Who knows the ways we might be blessed! Who knows the ways we to might be a blessing!
And what does it mean to listen? Ponder the following in your heart:
When I ask you to listen to me
And you start giving advice
You have not done what I askWhen I ask you to listen to me
And you begin to tell me why I should not feel that way.
You are trampling on my feelingsWhen I ask you to listen to me
And you feel you have to do something to solve my problem
You have failed me, strange as it may seem.Listen!   All I asked was that you listen,
Not talk or do – just hear me,
Advice is cheap
And I can do it for myself; I am not helpless,
Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.When you do something for me that I can and need to do
for myself, you contribute to my fear and weakness.But, as you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel,
No matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to convince
you and get about the business of understanding what is behind this
irrational feeling – and when that is clear,
the answers are obvious – and I do not need the advice,
Irrational feelings make sense
when we understand what is behind them.Perhaps that is why prayer works,
because God does not give advice or try to fix things,
God just listens and lets you reflect on your thoughts.So please listen and just hear me. And, if you want to talk wait …..
wait a minute for your turn, and I will listen to you.
– anonymous
Listen,
Jim