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.

Outside my bubble

Do we really love? It’s so easy to talk about ideals. We know the right things to do and say; even so, we mess up and run our mouths or misstep into the wrong. Yet we say we’d die for Him. I’ve always believed I would without hesitation until this week when it hit me.

I sat in a room full. Heart full from the love of my friends, my comrades at arms next to me. Stomach full from the extra serving of lasagna someone insisted I eat for the baby (it may have been me, I can’t remember). A preacher on a video spoke with fervor and passion about rescuing the lost, those prisoners of war all around us who we so easily pass by and ignore. Yet we say we’d die for him.

In that moment something clicked within me. I realized that I have missed the point so many times. Deep down, I’m still the shy girl who has no idea where to begin a conversation so rather than fumble, I retreat. I don’t talk to strangers so I stay locked in my bubble of “church-ianity”…comfortable, safe, allowing God to use me in His house speaking and singing to those who know the way. Is that enough?

If I’m willing to die for him, shouldn’t I be willing to live for him? Outside of the church walls where I’ll certainly be rejected, where I’ll be challenged to do something profound with my faith, that’s when it matters most. Jesus told us to go into all the world making disciples of all men. He never asked us to stay in our comfort zones and avoid all non-believers. To do so would be an affront to everything he came to accomplish.

I committed to be different this week and he’s brought me so many opportunities to show his love to others who desperately need him. It’s scary! My heart is willing but in the moments when your dealing with very real issues and someone is crying out for help and answers from God whom they’ve never met and you represent, and your praying “God, please give me the right words because I’m just a broken and feeble vessel”; it’s then that the Spirit of God can begin to show himself. Hopefully I can hide I’m the background of his glory and watch while he sutures the wounded and brings life to those whose hearts desperately seek him. Hopefully, he’ll allow me to offer a hand to hold, a shoulder to lean on, a surrender of myself and my time to someone outside my little world.

So I’m leaving the sanctuary of my bubble and venturing out to the unknown, the wilderness where I bear the only light, walking with them as they find their way to the source of hope Jesus. I’m yielding my heart to truly love others with action. We can make a difference in this world. Here I am Lord, send me.