I’m sure you, like me, many times find the pain and suffering of your friends and family to be overwhelming. My first instinct is to offer advice (which is many times simply my opinion) and my desire is to try to alleviate their pain. Neither of those are bad things, but are they the best things? What if all I’m called upon to do, and all they really need, is a listening ear?
I just finished a book by Bob Beaudine called 2 Chairs. The premise is the importance and life-changing possibilities from meeting with Jesus daily, visualizing Him in the chair next to you. While I have been having a morning quiet time for the past 20+ years (Daily Time with My Best Friend), this book reminded me of the importance of not doing all the talking. But asking questions and then listening for His answers.
As I’ve incorporated this into my morning times with Him over the past week, I’ve had a few pleasant surprises.
Side Note: We all have a picture in our minds of what Jesus looks like. I’m going to put in a plug for the new made-for-television series, The Chosen. Best story on the life of Jesus I have seen! You can download the app (The Chosen) and watch the first 8 episodes – I can’t recommend this enough! Anyway, Jesus in this series is who I picture sitting next to me. He is so kind and full of understanding. And He listens so well!
I have found my time with Him to be much more of a 2-way conversation instead of me just spilling out my heart, telling Him my long list of requests for myself, my friends and family, and then ending with a quick “thank you.” Do you know that in the Gospels, Jesus asked 307 questions! That means He did a lot of listening! He has modeled true listening to me for so many years, but now that I am intentionally slowing down to ask His thoughts or to wait for Him, He is sharing some unexpected things with me.
One of those is my calling to be a listening ear and an encourager to those in my circle. Now, many of my people would probably tell you that I’ve been a good listener for quite some time. As an introvert, I am much more comfortable listening than talking. And when I do share, it is usually short and succinct. But I have also been aware that over the years, there are many times I’ve sensed that someone needs a listening ear, but I’m sort of “listened out.” And so I ignore that still, small voice.
So with that revelation this week, I began to pay more attention. Sometimes the person I was with was just quiet but I had a feeling there was more going on under the surface, so I asked. And yes, there was. Other times the person I was talking to would share that they are struggling and instead of just saying “I’m sorry” or “I’ll pray for you,” I asked more questions about what was going on. Many times it was picking up the phone immediately when someone called to listen instead of letting it go and calling back at my convenience.
Over the past several days there have been so many instances where I was called upon to just listen. It made me wonder, did God lay this on my heart now because He knew there would be people around me that needed me to be their listening ear at this time? Or has this always been the case and I’ve been missing out by keeping my “listening” within perimeters that were comfortable and convenient for me? I’m thinking it might be both.
So I guess my challenge to you as well as myself is, do you need listening to take a higher priority in your life? Do you find, like I have, that you’re happy to listen, but only on your schedule? Or only with certain people?
Not only has being a listening ear filled my soul, I’ve had more than one person thank me and tell me how much better they felt just being able to express their thoughts and feelings. I didn’t say anything that made a difference, I just gave of my time through silence and a kind presence.
When I consider most of the people who opened up to me recently, they were all in a very lonely place in their lives. Some truly alone physically with no one else to talk to, others alone emotionally. Lonely is such a painful place to be, and yet there are lonely people everywhere around us. A listening ear could be all that is needed to make our world a kinder, more loving place. I’m so thankful Jesus always listens to me and sets that example.
I want to wrap this up with a few lines from a devotional I’ve shared from before, A Year in the Now by Bishop Jim Swilley.
Today I will be a Good Samaritan to someone in need,
A mentor to one who has lost his way.
The Jesus in me will pour oil and wine and mercy and grace into the wounds of the broken and battered around me, and will be a very present help in times of trouble.
I will owe no man anything but to love him.
I will love unconditionally.
I will love with no questions asked.
Will the Jesus in you be someone’s listening ear today?
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