Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Lost Art of Listening

I don't have TV service.  At all.  Long story. Big nuisance.  I miss it.  Thus my DVD player has been an important entertainment resource.  Well, recently it expired of use and old age.  It was 15 years old after all.  And I happened to see a manufacturer's refurbished DVD player on eBay that also had wifi capability so I could link my Hulu to it.  Brilliant.  I just wasn't sure about the price.  So I asked a friend if he thought it was a good deal.  Two minutes later he was sitting on my living room floor disemboweling my old DVD player.  Twenty minutes after that he was telling me what I already knew:  dead DVD player.  And I felt guilty for being a bother because he was honestly trying to help.  Really, I just wanted to know about the price of a new DVD player.

Recently I was talking to a relative on the phone, and I was concerned when he said he wasn't eating properly.  I asked about what he was having for supper so we could discuss ways to improve his diet.....instead, he started going off about GMOs and tainted products and the state of the world economy and problems with the government and the flaws in the church of today and sin and corruption and false doctrine and.....in the end, I listened vainly to him hollering (trust me, I mean this verb quite literally) for a full hour before I could get him to stop.  And then he blamed me for getting him upset.  Really, I just wanted to know how he was gonna cook that chicken.

Maybe it has a little bit to do with worries about the broken-ness of our society today.  Maybe it has a little bit to do with this season of the year when we want hope but feel pushed so hard.  Maybe it has a little bit to do with the vast amount of distractions in our lives.  There could be any number of reasons why.  But the problem seems to be that folks don't always know how to communicate anymore.

For my part, I suspect that I don't articulate properly.  Perhaps I just don't frame my questions clearly enough.  And maybe I don't know when to say stop.

And I see that other folks are so filled with pressures to perform and concerns about the future that they fill space with work and anxiety rather than taking time to truly listen.

Maybe we are all just afraid of what we will hear.  Maybe we are afraid that we can't solve the problems that surround us.  Maybe we just don't know how to ask or to respond.

We all need quiet space.  We need to find moments of peace in a season that truly should be peaceful.  We need to listen to our own hearts.  And we need to pay quiet attention to what others are trying to say. 

Maybe we don't have answers but we can always pray for others and for ourselves, too.

Life is good.
There is no maybe about that.

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