I believe that everyone in the world wants to be loved–in fact craves to be loved (and loved in healthy ways, of course). Love is how God wired us.
By the same token, we all yearn–even crave–to be heard, to be listened to, to be validated and understood. Who doesn’t want this? (And we shouldn’t be surprised if someone who feels unloved, unheard, neglected or misunderstood acts out, possibly in threatening or even violent ways.)
Today, try talking considerably less, but listen a lot more to the person or persons in front of you–they want to be heard, to be understood, as much as you crave to be heard and understood.
A cool moon photo for you by the fine and very fine photographer in Sante Fe, New Mexico, Katie Johnson, at
I think there’s a reason that in creating us, God equipped us with one mouth and twice as many ears.
God created us humanoids to live in a blood family but also to be like family in community together with all people. Being part of a family or community requires that we do some talking. But, ideally, at least, it requires an enormous amount of genuine, active, conscious listening to one another.
Thus, we have two ears and only one mouth.
I submit that it was part of God’s plan that we have two ears with which to listen to each other in order to get along in love and peace and harmony. But we tend to use our ears so little that a sort of wax builds up in them, making it even harder for us to really hear what we’re trying to say to one another.
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Then, in our sinfulness and brokenness, we tend to have motor mouths.
Which is to say that we talk and talk a lot to each other, but also tend to talk at each other, often talking past each other, always mulling in our busy little heads what we’re going to say to someone in response to what they are saying rather than actually listening to what they are saying. If we’re unwilling to listen reflectively at all, we’ll speak in a reactionary way. And reactionary speech inflames passions.
We don’t listen with both ears God gave us, which is why children and teens feel unheard (and often why they are so rebellious as to be out of control).
It’s why divorce hangs at such a high percentage rate decade after decade.
It’s why government leaders get stuck in gridlock and end up refusing to agree on the time of day.
It’s why so many people, even Christians for God’s sake, diminish and invalidate one another with harsh, divisive words that run out of their mouths because of differences over what color the carpet should be in the new sanctuary.
As if God gives a squatting hoot.
(The color of carpet can be a hugely divisive issue in a church–ask any pastor you happen to see.)
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I’ve been reading and reflecting on the great Book of Acts lately–which, in addition to being a terrific (and sometimes funny) adventure story, is Dr. Luke’s detailed and well-written account of how the people of the Way (as they were known long before anybody called them Christians) created the body of Christ (i.e., the church).
I’ve noticed in my reading of Acts this time that the Apostolic Christians were quite good at actually listening to one another (as well as good at praying and fasting and listening to God before making any big decisions).
In Acts 11: 1-18, we find Peter going back to Jerusalem after making a bunch of excited new Christians, who were the dreaded Gentiles, in the home of the Gentile Cornelius. Upon his arrival in the Holy City, Peter was greeted with criticism from “the circumcised believers.”
His critics could have come down on him like a ton of bricks with some strong language, engaging him in fiery, argumentative debate. But like the good, early Christian believers that they were, they criticized–and then actually listened to what Peter had to say for himself.
After listening to him with so much interest and attention, they initially were silenced–and then got right on board with him.
Like I say, there’s a reason God gave us one mouth and twice the ears to listen with, if only we dare look another in the eye and listen to what another has to say rather than reacting.
Even your pet dog, after all, gives you the courtesy of just looking at you and listening when you need a nonjudgmental and interested listener.