I’m a talker. Always have been. It’s a curse, for the most part, you know, the cross I must bear. Sometimes when I am vomiting at the mouth, I am completely unaware that someone else is interjecting a comment or forming an opinion about what I am saying.
Last month I had a friend comment to me that when she and her husband double date with us, she feels that my husband disrespects me in conversation. I had no idea what she meant until she gave specific examples of comments he would interject when I was telling my story or relating a goal or dream. Comments like “Oh, right! And I’m going to win the lottery” or “Like that will ever happen” were quotes that I must have learned to ignore when the floor was all mine. I spoke to my husband privately about what my friend had observed and hoped that he took what I said to heart, but honestly, it made me wonder if I too interrupt, interject and ignore the feelings of others when they are speaking.
Learning to listen more than I speak is a skill and an art that I am still struggling with. I love the fact that God gave us two ears but only one mouth. I guess I should learn to use them accordingly.
If you read the Bible, you may remember Ecclesiastes 3:7 – “A time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak.” If you are not a Bible reader, maybe you heard a similar sentiment in the song written by Pete Seeger in the late 50’s, then released in 1962 by the folk group the Limeliters but not becoming a big hit until 1965 when the Byrd’s sang Turn! Turn! Turn! Either way, there are definitely times to just shut up and listen.
I vaguely remember other Bible verses where Jesus talks about listening. In Matthew 11:15 he is speaking about John the Baptist, and says “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Also in Proverbs 1:5 we are instructed to “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.”
Do I listen before I speak, or while someone is talking am I already thinking of my retort? When someone is relating a story am I thinking of a similar story to one-up the one being told?
Not listening to your husband or others is not indicative of a hearing problem. It is more likely symptomatic of a problem of the heart. What makes my story or life experience more important? Nothing! The person speaking deserves my undivided attention.
When I dismiss the rare times my husband opens up to me, I am disregarding his desire to share. I am not loving him in a way that will allow him to open up to me more in the future. If I am more concerned with my answer or solution than just allowing him to confide then I may have missed the point of him sharing with me in the first place.
Who says that New Years Day is the only day we can make resolutions? From this day forward, I resolve to listen more than I speak. To hear what people have to say. To stop jumping in and trying to fix the problem. To simply allow. Perhaps this will allow even God’s voice to be more clear to me.
Proverbs 19:27 “Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”