With Valentine’s Day coming up soon, there has been a lot of talk in my house of gifts. Our girls have already learned to drop hints, but we also talk about what to get our friends. My oldest daughter is even considering what to give her boyfriend. The other day, I heard a radio spot that really made me think about what I give (or don’t give) on a regular basis: the gift of listening.
Listening is one of those things where we can quickly become complacent. We listen thoroughly at work or school to gain instructions, descriptions of scope, barriers, and even to find out what not to do. Yet at home, with the ones we love the most, we tend to listen less. We have learned to become great multi-taskers for good reason. Once we get home at the end of the day, there is still so much left to do – homework, dinner, dishes, showers, laundry, plus much more. However, our focus on getting so much done has often required a high price in our active listening. We do homework in the kitchen specifically so I can help while I’m cooking. We talk on the phone while we are finishing that important email. How much more would we hear if we just stopped and only listened?
What about God? We cheat our other loved ones of our full attention; do we fall into this same trap with God? While I recognize that communicating with God while I’m driving or making dinner is perfectly acceptable, I also want to make sure I have some time where I am actively listening to God. What does this look like? Quiet time? Studying the Bible? Meditation? I think it differs for each of us depending on our relationship with God or even depending on the situation we are in. How do you listen to God?
So for Valentine’s Day this year, I plan to give the gift of listening to my loved ones, including God. (Of course, this will be in addition to the required Valentine candy!!)
To do this, I will:
• Pause what I am doing so I can focus on the other person
• Consider what is being said without thinking ahead to my response
• Summarize the comments to ensure I heard and understood everything
It’s such a small thing, but it can make such a big difference!
Who have you listened to today?