“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.” ~
Have you ever spoken to someone — maybe a child, a student, a relative, a friend, a significant other — and had the feeling that “nobody was home?” As you spoke, you may have seen eyes that were glazed and you may have even uttered those immortal words, “Do you understand what I am saying?” I think we have all been there and in both ways: as the one speaking and as the one spoken to.
The answer to the question, “Do you understand what I am saying?”, was most often, “No.” The reason is a little easier to understand in today’s quote: they were listening in order to reply and not in order to understand what was being said.
We train our children at a very early age to listen in order to reply/respond. We tell our children that, if they do not pay attention, something bad could happen. We tell our children to respond immediately to what we have to say to them. We tell them so many things that end in response, either verbal or physical, and not in any mental or emotional processing. Why would we be surprised, then, when we see that they are not truly listening to us when we speak about things on a deeper level?
Because most of us were trained to respond, not to listen, we apply the same thing to God. We hear that we are supposed to listen to God. Why? We have been told that God will tell us what we need to do. God will warn us of danger. God will have demands of us. So, when we pray, we listen for directions. When we do not hear any directions from God, we feel as if our prayer was empty, that God was not there.
Actually, God was very much present. He was speaking to us as we looked at Him bleary-eyed. He ended His talk with us by asking, “Do you understand what I am saying?” Because we thought God was going to give us instructions, we tell Him, “No.”
Most of the time, when God speaks to us, it is to the heart. God may give us direction from time to time, as any loving parent would. But, again, like any loving parent, God spends most of His time saying things like “I love you. You are a wonderful gift to me and to the world. You are special. My Son died for you, so great did He love you. You are uniquely and wonderfully made.”
Do you understand what He is saying? I certainly hope so!
FAITH ACTION: When you pray today, spend some time in silence so that you can listen to what God may be attempting to say to you.