Listening Ears, Big Mouth

James 1:19-20

I have a hearing loss. I like to blame it on being a musician and years of in-ear monitors blasting a “click” (metronome) in my ears at volumes far louder than recommended because that sounds cooler than “I have a hearing loss”. The reality is, my dad had a significant hearing loss, my mother has hearing loss, my brother has hearing loss, and my daughter was born with a moderate hearing loss, so odds are, it runs in the family. Either way, listening with understanding can be difficult for me at times.

My husband often gets frustrated with me as I respond with confusion and “huh” more often than either of us would like. Or I think he’s saying something that isn’t even close to what he’s actually saying and react in a manner totally inappropriate to the reality before me. My kids have to repeat themselves time and time again which most likely drives them crazy. I long for the day when I can afford hearing aids so I don’t frustrate those closest to me so frequently. But for now…

I pray that my ears work a little better than my mouth. I hope to be the kind of person who really listens to what others are saying to me (even when I can’t hear them fully). I may not always understand their perspective and I may often disagree but that doesn’t negate the responsibility to listen. When we find ourselves so enamored with our own opinions that ours is the only viewpoint we can see, we might be guilty of this.

There is such a thing as fundamental truth. I do not subscribe to the notion that all things are relative and your truth is different than mine. Some things are black and white without a grey area to smudge and blur the dividing lines. Don’t misunderstand me.

Yet, how can we espouse the truth we hold so dear, and positively influence the life of another person, if we can’t take the time to sit in community with them and hear what they are saying? I think we will find that often times, the things we are getting so angry and upset about “the other side” saying, aren’t really what they are saying at all. We are so quick to polarize. We are so quick to speak before we hear.

I get myself in trouble all the time when I hear (or think I hear) someone say something to me but in my impairment, I think they are saying something completely bizarre and I couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s become a comedy of sorts with my kids because I will quote back to them what I heard which will be something completely off the wall like, “a band of monkeys invaded Pearl Harbor”, and they’ll laugh and tell me they actually said, “there are ants in the tree in the backyard”. Feel free to donate to that hearing aid fund :).

I think we all do that in life all the time. Maybe not literally like I do, but when we jump to conclusions about another person’s intentions, life experiences, perspectives. When we forget that, “Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one].” I Corinthians 13:7 AMP. Slow down and listen! And if you don’t understand, ask questions, and LISTEN to the answer. You might be surprised that your enemy isn’t really an enemy and even if they are, they might be won over with a small amount of kindness.

Our anger will never produce the righteousness of God. Our kindness and patience might shine the light of his glory and truth to generations. We will never win an argument we are fighting against ourselves, but we can learn to listen and speak out of the abundance of a life turned towards Jesus and the goodness of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, that may mean speaking a word of correction and a good dose of disagreement, but that doesn’t mean an angry tirade against the masses. Slow down!

I may not have physical hearing aids yet and my kids will still laugh at me when I think they are saying they want to “dance with piglets” instead of “have some Cheez-its”. But I hope my spiritual hearing aids are tuned to hear everything through the redemptive love of Jesus Christ and a desire to see him shine! Those are the messages I want my big mouth to shout to the ends of the earth.

Who’s in Control?

reactive

Reactive, by definition is the tendency to react or to be characterized by reactance. I think most people I know fall into the category of chronic reactors. We so often relinquish control to others or our circumstances. We see it in the lives of those terrified to move because they are so afraid of what others will think. We see it in our relationships as we react in anger. We are driven by words hurled toward us by careless humans, who unwittingly (or with intent), bite with condescension or malice. We are so easily wounded and broken. We are selfish.

Ben Carson says in his book Take the Risk,

“The more rights you think you have, the more likely someone is going to infringe upon them.”

“It wasn’t until I backed off enough to take myself out of the center that I realized reactions like that [anger/negative reactions] were not signs of strength, but rather indications of weakness. Such reactions meant I was letting other people, the environment, or circumstances control me, and I decided I didn’t want to be so easily controlled. But if I took myself, my rights, my ego, my feelings out of the center, I couldn’t be.”

“Once I was able to take myself out of the equation, to look at things from other people’s perspectives and not feel that all the rights belonged to me, the things that could make me angry were suddenly few and far between.”

When we are brave enough to stop thinking about ourselves and put others first, we may find that we gain the power and the freedom that we’ve been searching for. No one can hurt us if we don’t let them. All it takes is the wisdom to know that we are loved completely and fully by the creator and we can move beyond reaction to freedom and begin to go beyond “me” to “them”. Be free today!