I have a friend who has learnt the art of listening. Not just to my words, but to the cry of my heart and the longing of my soul. The questions he asks lets me know he’s heard me, that’s he’s not thinking about the next think he wants to say or the other things on his to do list. I have his undivided attention.
It’s a gift. Something I don’t experience very often. It seems as if listening has become a dying art. In the busyness of life it’s easy to be distracted with our own thoughts, plans and decisions, and conversations somehow become part of the to-do list.
In The Road to Daybreak, Henri Nouwen said, "To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, welcome, to accept”.
Listening is one of the greatest of human attributes. Love and true intimacy depend on being heard. We only really get to know someone when we take time to listen, not just to their words but to their heart. Listening opens the door to understanding and in the process something amazing happens … the person feels heard and the door is opened wider.
But listening requires a sacrifice of my time and a giving up of myself for another. Whether that is to hear the still small voice of God or the cry of my friend, neighbour or child is it an investment I am willing to make?
Do you have a friend who listens well or are you that friend? Is that a gift you are giving your child? Leave a comment, I'd love to hear your thoughts.