A Quote That Stopped Me in My Tracks

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.”

IMG_0339I 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 IMG_1000001532be 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.

About Diane Rivers

Diane is a native Floridian whose career as an FBI Agent got her transferred to the North. She's retired from that gig now and "repurposed" as a freelance writer, author, and sometimes poet who blogs about the bumpy, bone-jostling ride of her “workaround” life. She loves Jesus, her family, black coffee, kayaking, biking, and hiking, and she looks forward to eternity with the One who will make all things beautiful. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

12 thoughts on “A Quote That Stopped Me in My Tracks”

  1. What a nice reminder that I do need to LISTEN.  Once again, you bring me a blessed moment, Diane.  Actually many moments because I’ve not stopped thinking about your reflection since I read it.  Thank you (and see you tomorrow for lunch)! Marge

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  2. Honestly, I will try to be a better listener. It is truly a gift to give another your full attention and pay attention. Not easy in such a hurried world. I wonder how many times I have unintentionally done that. ugh

    1. We all do it. It’s just a good reminder for me that allowing others to feel heard is like depositing money in their emotional bank. I’m wealthy from all the deposits you’ve made in mine!

  3. I have often felt the most important aspect of being a good communicator – which most people usually translate to mean “talking” – is the long-forgotten talent of listening. Confirming you are dialed in to the other person speaking is the best way to not only provide appropriate responses…but it also affirms for the other person you truly care about what they have to say and consider not only their words important…but consider them important as well.

    1. I could not agree more. There’s a whole lot of “communicating” going on that doesn’t have a thing to do with listening. It gets darn loud. Yet, as you point out, caring enough to really listen to another person shows we value them, as well as their words. (There’s that love thing.) Thanks for such a thoughtful observation.

  4. Thanks for this Diane! I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to listen to God, or for God. I’m still in process, but thanks for giving me more to chew on.

    1. John Eldredge has written some wonderful material on listening for God’s voice. I’ve just finished re-reading “Walking with God: Talk to Him. Hear from Him. Really”. I really resonate with his writing style and find his approach helpful in my faith walk.

      Thanks for your comment!

Your feedback is welcome!