I confess – I’ve been writing a lot about listening lately. Maybe that’s because there are so many clamoring voices out there, voices muzzled by masks, voices misunderstood and much maligned, creating a din of undecipherable chaos.
Perhaps I and maybe you, too, along with many others are actually hard of hearing, at least when it comes to hearing people we perceive as different from ourselves. My favorite quote begins “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly . . .”. Well, I think it may also be true that “it is only with the heart that one can hear rightly.” I may not need an audiologist, I may need a cardiologist instead.
I may not be hard of hearing after all, but hard of heart. A heart that is full of hate and anger and fear makes ears deaf to the cries of the people all around. That heart hears only its own pain, rendering it deaf to the pain of others.
Empathy is not possible without listening. And an angry, hate-filled, fear filled heart cannot hear any voice but its own. It has not learned to listen. We have become a nation of angry voices, with no listeners to receive our words. But I can know that there is One who always hears me. You can know that there is One who always hears you. He hears me even when I feel that there is no one who hears my words, no one who hears my wailing, no one who hears my cries of desperation, my questions seeking answers. He hears me and He hears you too, dear readers. Rejoice and be glad! You are heard!
“Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord.” (Psalm 139:4)
He is listening, He hears me!
“When I called, You answered me; You made me bold and stouthearted.” (Psalm 138:3)
I need to learn to listen to others like my Heavenly Father listens to me – with attention, with care, with compassion, with understanding –
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (James 1:19-20)
“I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.” (Psalm 116:1-2)
“let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance -” (Proverbs 1:5)
Lord, let me learn to listen to others just as You lovingly listen to me, hearing beyond my words to my heart –
give me ears to hear and help my heart to hear as well –
sincerely, Grace Day