Yesterday on Twitter someone quoted David Augsburger and it was so arresting I had to read it twice. It was only 17 words but I went to sleep last night thinking about what a profound truth it revealed.
Here’s the quote:
“Being heard is so close to being loved
that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.”
I think of how my heart is healed and how deep is my release from isolation when another person just hears me. In the moment that I sense someone has entered in with me in my pain or my confusion, I feel loved.
It sounds simple, but it isn’t.
When was the last time you had a one-sided or shallow conversation?
How about that one friend or coworker who “engages” with you by finishing your sentence? You’re trying to make a point or answer a question they asked. But you can’t because they’re interrupting you. You feel like you have to talk faster to get the words out before they snatch them away.
Have you ever wanted to interrupt them back and say,
“What if that wasn’t where I was going with my answer?”
This is especially hard with people who know you well. They think they can anticipate the point you’re about to make (maybe they can, but even so . . . ) and they step right on your response. I don’t think it’s necessarily an intentional or unloving thing to do; it’s just a conversational habit they’ve developed.
Usually I just stop and let them finish MY answer for me, then I continue where I left off. It’s exhausting. And frustrating.
Do you have a friend or loved one who cuts you off in mid-sentence with, “Yeah, I get it. I don’t need all the details”? This is a variation on finishing your sentence for you, though I would argue it IS intentional and unloving. It’s downright mean-spirited and it tells me my point of view, my explanation is not worth hearing.
Of course we’ve all been in group situations where everyone is talking and absolutely no one is really listening. Now THAT will wear you down.
To be honest, I sometimes have these kinds of conversations with God and it must be exhausting and frustrating for Him, too (assuming God gets exhausted and frustrated, which is probably a deep theological question I’m not qualified to answer).
Often I talk at Him, rather than to Him and I don’t quiet myself long enough to hear His response.
Or I hurry through a prayer, suggesting an answer that seems like a really good idea to me rather than putting it out there and waiting to hear from Him.
That’s when I imagine Him saying:
“You didn’t give me a chance to answer. What if that wasn’t where I was going with my response?”
“I want to meet your needs in an incredible way and relate to you intimately, but you won’t let me. You are so busy and over-scheduled, you’re putting limits on our conversation, our relationship.”
“What if you slowed down enough to really hear me when you pray?”
God is not “the average person” referenced in the quote above by any means and He is far too much of a gentleman to treat me the way I often treat Him when we’re talking. Maybe if I “inclined my ear” (Psalm 86:1) toward Him more consistently in prayer so He could be heard, I would be showing my love for a change.
I think I’ll try to remember to be quiet and let God finish His sentences when we talk.
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- The surprising thing about “weakness” - April 20, 2016
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