I think the way we listen to others says a lot about how we love people.
I think the way you talk to/about people says a lot about the way that you love people.
What questions do you ask the people that you love?
I ask Mike and my kids all the time, How can I love you better? How can I be a better wife to you? How can I be a better mom to you? What do you need from me?
I know that they all love me just as I am, but I know I have room for so much growth.
Lilly, our 13 year old and I are incredibly honest with each other. It's an agreement that we have that we can both accept. She can tell me that my hair or outfit "doesn't work" and I can do the same for her, and we both appreciate each others honesty. I hope that we can always be this honest with each other.
You have to be prepared for brutal honesty if you ask that question in our house, to our children. Mike will sugar-coat things, but kids...NO WAY! They will straight up tell you. I love that about little kids, but the truth can be hard to accept coming from grown-ups.
What you do with what people tell you says a lot about YOU.
Can you handle hard truths? Are you willing to listening and learn and grow and change, or are you fine being stuck where you were yesterday, or last week, month, year?
Do you have a growth mindset?
Since Mike came home from his deployment, we have been riding our bikes together for 5+ miles a day. I also do 5 in the morning where I listen to podcasts, but that's another story for another day. It is has given us a good chunk of uninterrupted time to talk about all kinds of things. Fun things. Exciting things. Even hard things. Our next steps in life. I am coming up on the end of an era with my baby going to Kindergarten this fall and his 3 years of teaching will be up next year, so we have a lot of gigantic decisions to make and pray through.
Will we stay in this area? Will I go back to work? What's best for all 6 of us. These are HARD conversations to have and we have a lot of tough decisions that we are trying to make, which as you can guess, can be challenging. Especially now when so many things are rapidly changing.
It has forced me to think a lot about how I listen. (Or Don't listen!) I won't speak for him...but I would say we BOTH could GROW in this area.
I am working to ask questions for the sake of listening and learning and hearing and thinking and processing.
Our human nature is to defend our position and ideas and wants and needs. Our human nature is to be HEARD, not to hear.
If you interrupt people while the are speaking, you want to be heard.
If you interrupt people while they are speaking, maybe you care more about YOU than them.
If your conversations lead to ANGER, you probably care more about You than them.
We have made an agreement, we won't interrupt. We will hear the other person out. We will let them finish. It takes a ton of self-control and practice and we are still WORKING on this. We certainly haven't perfected the skill! But we are aware, and we are trying.
Not interupting is only a first step. Then you have to stop and think before you speak. Like, seriously, pause. Wait. Think. Pray even. How can I respond in love?
I love Ephesians 4:29, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."
Are we learning how to listen at home?
Are we teaching our kids how to truly listen?
Are we self-controlled enough to listen for the sake of hearing and learning and possibly changing our ways, rather than proving to someone else that they need to change theirs?
A few Sundays ago, I had the privilege of talking to a friend who is also a black woman. According to my family, we talked for 4 hours! Could have been a slight exaggeration, but it was a long time. So long, that we scratched our dinner plans and Mike ran out for pizza. Even then, they had to drag me off my front porch to come in and eat with them.
We had the best conversation, about a ton of things, including the differences between being black and white. The color of our skin is different, but we share the exact same birthdate and million other qualities. We are far more alike than different. We had a ton of "me, too" moments in that conversation. (We always do!) She also taught me about things that I had no idea about. Honestly, things that I never even think about. She told me her own personal experiences that left my jaw dropped and broke my heart. My eyes were opened to the differences between raising a white son and a black son, honestly, something I haven't thought a lot about. I am a huge fan of reading books, watching movies, listening to podcast and learning in any way that we can, but hearing straight from someone that you love and care about, that is incredibly eye opening. Just then beginning to my listening and learning.
As we were talking, knowing that I have a tendency to interrupt with a bazillion questions, I had to honest to goodness say to myself, over and over....LISTEN. LISTEN. LISTEN. Listen to learn. Listen to understand. Listen to grow. And even then, I am sure I talked too much.
I can't tell you her story, but I can tell you that she opened my mind and heart to things that it was closed off to. Since then, we have had more conversations with our kids about people who are different from us, in numerous ways. We must keep having those conversations. Hopefully, when we listen with the purpose of learning, we are open to changing who we are. To learning and teaching our kids better. To become more compassionate, loving human beings to everyone that we share this earth with.
Let it begin in your home. Teach your children to listen. To not interrupt. To have self-control. To wait. To ask questions that may come with hard answers. To not be so easily angered or offended, but to listen for the purpose of learning.
I know I have a LOT of work to do in the area of listening. With my spouse. With my neighbors. With my children.
I think that if we claim to love anyone, (husband, wife, child, neighbor) the very least we can do is be willing to listen to them. Hear them. Listen from a place of wanting to learn. Listening from a place of "I may need to change. I may need to grow. I may need to do things differently in order to love you better."
Lukey overheard my reading this and said I need to add the verse, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." James 1:19. I couldn't agree more!
Go! Have a conversation with ANYONE! Be self-aware...are you really listening?????