Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Word of the Week: Listen

Sometimes I have so many thoughts bouncing through my head that it really takes an effort to just be quiet and listen. Being quiet is one thing; intentional listening is another. And yet I'm finding out that, far from being a state of passivity, active listening involves some questions. Sometimes in response to the stirrings in my heart, it does good to ask "God, what are you trying to teach me? What are you wanting me to do?"

I notice I tend to block out negative feelings and even beat myself up for what I'm thinking or feeling. They are, after all, negative . . . and we've been (or at least I've been) conditioned to think "rejoice in the Lord always . . . " - stuff the feelings and move on. Instead I've been trying to just listen to what's going on in my heart. Why am I frustrated? What's my deep longing here? What would God have me do? And what would that be like? I'm learning to:

  • Listen to discern
  • Listen patiently
  • Listen and obey
I notice when I do stop to listen, God doesn't blow me off - imagine that! He's totally okay with me bringing even the negative parts of myself to him. Sometimes it takes another person to help in this listening process, and I'm thankful for people in my life who do that. And I notice the more I listen to my own life, the more I'm learning to listen attentively to those around me.

God is already listening . . . why don't we join him?

A helpful resource for me has been a book I reviewed previously, entitled Listen: Finding God in the Story of Your Life, by Keri Wyatt Kent. I highly recommend this book!

Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness. James Thurber