Listening can be very difficult. Not that there is any difficulty in actually hearing things, but in actually understanding. I am sorry to say that today I am rather un imaginative, so I hope that this is not to boring. But I see listening as taking on several parts, and all of these are realizations that I have had in the last few days.
I need to practice listening with my ears, as well as my eyes and body. Not only do I need to engage them with my whole person, posture and eye contact, but I also need to watch what they are communicating non verbally. I might miss something important.
I need to be comfortable with the relationship. If I am worried about losing a friend, or already concerned that the other person doesn’t like me, I start to think up many things that are not even a part of the conversation. Do they really mean what they say? Are they holding something back? Am I good enough?
Along with that, I need to be comfortable enough with myself that if they are wrong about something, that I am willing to let that go as I am listening. When I start to argue with them, in my own head, and defend myself, I stopped listening and starting fighting for what is mine.
I want to be the person who is a servant to others, who is willing to let what he wants go in order to be there for someone else.
It is only just recently that I realized, that in any good relationship there needs to be the security that even if something is wrong, (since we are human there always will be) we are confident in the character of the other person and the relationship itself. Trust truly is the foundation of any good relationship.
Previously I shared how a friend of mine that I had poured hours of my time and energy into told me that no one showed that they cared. It was as though he did not even see me. I also know that I was not the only one giving him time and energy. But his eyes were blind, he needed to see clearly.
Seeing people as worth it involves being able to see them as ones made in the image of God, one who if we saw them in their true nature would inspire in us awe that we have not known, which will be the topic of my next post. But for now we must also make sure that we relate with others wholly and not allow our culture to short circuit our ability to love and be loved. My friend wanted something, connection, but had learned to only see it in certain ways. Personally I think he really wanted a romantic relationship, so all other forms of love were missed.
One of the problems with our relationships is that we have been tempered by our society to, “have it your way,” the hashtag of Burger King. We have been taught since we were little that we were special and unique. Advertising caters to this desire to be special and receive special products. Chicken Soup for the (insert any market that has money and wants to feel special) soul. So when it comes to love, we want it our way.
As smart Christians, we do this a little bit better than the advertising gurus, or at least that is what we tell ourselves. The Five Love Languages teaches us how to cater how we love to others and how to ask to have love catered to us. This instills in us a desire for life and relationships to be a certain way. If we have something outside of that it is a problem that needs to be fixed with more self-help books. Combine that with no societal trained ideal of “choosing to be content” and a constant desire for more and you have a natural bent to desire to be loved in a very specific way without being content with other alternatives.
As people who are servants of Christ, we need to be able to reach out to others where they are at. Step into their shoes and do what we can to love others on their terms. However on the same token, we must also be willing to accept love, and choose to be content with it when it doesn’t look the way we want to. I personally am not into stuff. I don’t like stuff. I would be happy if I had almost nothing. However if a friend gets me a gift, I need to be able to see that it says, “I love you” and drink it up even if it isn’t my cup of coffee, but tea instead.