Listening to yourself.
My hearing is fine. It's listening I have a problem with. It sounds ridiculously simple and completely obvious. So why is it so profoundly difficult for me to just listen to myself? How can I ever expect to hear what others have to say that I really desperately need to hear when I won't even listen to the things I've been saying to myself for a long time?Things like: "I can't do this any more. There is no more grace for it. The season for this is over. It's done. I have to stop."
"La La La Laaaaa. I can't hear you!"
Can't? No, I won't.
The real problem much of the time isn't that God won't speak to me about something. The real problem is that He's been constantly speaking to me about it, but I simply refuse to listen to myself. The trouble is, hearing is one thing, but listening is something else entirely. Hearing just requires showing up and being present. Listening means really hearing and believing and responding to what I've heard. The truth is I really do need answers to some things, but what if I've known the answers for a long time, but I won't admit it to myself? Maybe it's because I don't like the answer, or maybe I'm too afraid to hear it, or maybe it affects other people, and I know they won't like hearing the truth.
Either way, that's an entirely different problem. Here's the thing: if you and I would just have the guts to really be honest with ourselves, it would actually allow others to have the courage to really be honest with us, too. I need that so much! How many times have I heard someone say something and acted like I didn't hear them because I didn't like what they said? That's a pretty broken way to function, but when I do that to myself, the stakes go up dramatically into the realm of life and death.
I really need to hear what God is saying to me.
I really need to hear what others are saying to me.
I desperately need to hear what I've been trying to say to myself.
Shutting down what I'm hearing in that place impacts the other voices, too.
But that's only part of the equation because there are a thousand other voices out there trying to get my attention:
Buy this. Believe this. Remember this. Wouldn't you be happier with this? Try this. Don't do this. Be like this,. If you do this , you'll be this.
I hear them all the time, and what's worse, sometimes I actually listen. The real challenge for me and you isn't the difference between just hearing and real listening.
It's the difference between listening to other voices that really don't have anything helpful to say at the expense of really listening to myself and the things I already know and really need to hear.
Scripture to consider - John 10:27-28 - My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. (ESV)
What is one thing that you haven't been willing to hear yourself say?
Where have you been trying to find an answer to something that your deeper self already knows if you would listen?
How can you make a deeper place for listening to God and others and yourself?
What are some things that you've been trying to say to yourself, but you haven't been willing to listen?
What are some of the other voices that you listen to that distract you from hearing from yourself and God?
What are some practical things that you can do to become a better listener to God and yourself and others?
How will you invite God to guide you in this endeavor of Listening?
“It takes a great man to be a good listener.”
― Calvin Coolidge
“There's a lot of difference between listening and hearing.”
― G. K. Chesterton
“You're short on ears and long on mouth.”
― John Wayne
“The word 'listen' contains the same letters as the word 'silent'.”
― Alfred Brendel
“Half the time you think your thinking you’re actually listening”
― Terence McKenna
A simple prayer for Listening:
Father, will you truly tune my heart to the voices that I need to listen to? Please forgive me for all the times I have heard and not listened to you. Will you give me the grace to hear the hard things you are saying and the faith to believe the kind and wonderful things that you're saying about me all the time? Will you help me to trust your voice in my heart and honor the things that I am saying to myself? Will you make me a beautiful listener who provides a safe place for the words of others?