Listen With Your Heart
There is so much power to be found in words. We rarely think of the power our words can hold over someone else. We may say something never realizing that it changed the course of someone’s day, week, month, or maybe even life. We speak so quickly without realizing that someone could hear the words and hold on to them for a lifetime, hearing them in their minds and holding them in their hearts.
Now these words can change a person’s day for the better, or so often for the worst. I can’t tell you how many times words spoken to me by my 3rd grade teacher have resurfaced as I have journeyed through life, words spoken to a child in ignorance because she learned differently carried into her life creating fear of never being smart enough. Words that I have always tried to go above and beyond to prove wrong.
These words we throw around so freely, wow what a sword. I also remember words of power and overcoming being spoken into me, these are the words I hold precious and dear to my heart. I found myself thinking of the strength in words as I sat reading birthday posts on social media. I thought to myself “oh the joy to be found in the kindness of a word” you see… I do not celebrate my birthday, and I have tried to avoid the day all together for a very a long time.
Yet somehow on my least favorite day of the year I found joy in these words sent to me, and it reminded me of a conversation I had not to long ago about words.
There are spoken words and then there are written words. For me the written word is so much harder hitting, I mean think about it… If someone yells at you in anger it is hurtful yes, but you can often remember that very little real thought probably went into the things said in the heat of the moment; but imagine getting those same words sent in a letter or an email or even a text really… SO MUCH MORE HURTFUL. See to write it out you really must put thought into it… you must think about your words two times… once to form the thought and then another to put it to paper. I mean really this is why journaling and blogging is so therapeutic.
The average human processes 70,000 thoughts a day… SEVENTY THOUSAND that’s a brain fact that will blow your mind right! That my friend, is a lot of words. So, to write them down can be so helpful because it forces our mind to sort through the madness and get out what we really need to get out we can often find the real root of our troubles or joys in the process of writing. But the next step is deciding what to do with them once they are out there living and breathing on paper… do we take that time of thinking and writing and begin to see both sides of the equation and think “this really was a silly thing to be so mad about” or do we feel justified and decide to push send?
Either way, the extra time to think about it was not wasted. We are so quick to speak and so slow to listen these days that I walk around and see it… I see the anger people hold at people who at one time or another were their friends. I see the person sitting alone, now the outcast because of something that more than likely could have been worked out. But alas… the words were spoken quickly; opinions were formed and now people are divided, and sides have been chosen.
It is a trickle affect really; one person gets hurt by another’s actions and they need an ally, so they share the story and boom, friends part, and that’s that. I wonder how just a quick inhale and exhale and decision to not react in the moment could have changed the outcomes. I really do hope that I can continue to work toward being a person who can speak slower and hear quicker.
I do this in my conversations with my teenage daughter, and my gosh the difference it makes. She is a teen living with and learning to manage ADHD. Now somethings she says, and I am like IMMEDIATELY NO… but so often if I just let her speak and take mental notes as she is speaking and give her the opportunity just to GET IT ALL OUT, she will come to the same conclusion on her own that I would have spoken over her.
See I have poured into her life for all these years and whether I thought she was at the time; she was listening and watching and learning. She has turned into this amazing human right in front of my eyes and has so much to say. I am a sanctuary for her; her safe space that she can say all the things and feel all the things and know that I am just where it ends. She has no fear of me repeating her feelings or judging them. I am simply a wall with ears. She will literally fall into my bed at the end of the day most days and just word vomit all the things of her day and how they made her feel and how she didn’t respond, and she just held the thoughts until she reached her sanctuary. She knows that when it is something that needs to be addressed, I will absolutely address it and a lesson and or consequence is coming, but I always give her ample time to complete all her thoughts and feelings freely. I in no way let her get away with anything, but I also understand that she lives with ADHD, and a teen with ADHD says things off the cuff; without thought even more than every other teen, and if I jump down her throat every time she says something wrong well… she’s going to stop speaking to me and even worse she is going to stop trusting me with her thoughts and feelings. When a person feels safe speaking, they will say things that will show you what was really going on and what lead them to respond in a way or do things that aren’t really telling of the person they are.
Sometimes you will realize you were just a catch all in a day of 70,000 thoughts that ended up coming out at the smallest possible trigger. You see people say and do the wrong thing… because we are just mere humans with very real faults. So maybe if we could just slow down to hear people even in their anger, the way we do when they are speaking joy and be slow to respond we could work through these major dividers that live between two sides of a story. If we could just give people the benefit of the doubt we may change their hearts with our silence. In John 16 Jesus says a lot of words yet the disciples are not understanding; they are hearing him but not grasping the meaning of his words. Yet, they never came out and asked him. That is the picture I am painting here… we hear pieces of things and interoperate them without truly ever hearing them to start with. The disciples were saying behind Jesus’ back “what do you think he meant by that?” or “we do not get what he is saying.” It took Jesus himself seeing that these people weren’t getting it and saying it in a different way for them to say in John 16:29-30 something to the extent of “AH! ok…. Well, when you put it like that we understand AND (do not miss this next part) AND… we believe you”. Sometimes if we really listen to people and simply respond with “I need you to tell me what you are really trying to say” we can fix a life altering division and keep a friend. Throughout Jobs troubles he was told more than once to “be silent” “pay attention” another meaning for the words pay attention is “to incline ears”. Job was told these things by God because God needed him to learn the wisdom in waiting to speak even when he was in times of trouble; the wisdom would surely be found in the patience that came with listening first and speaking later. Words can absolutely destroy a relationship BUT they can also mend one if we extend the grace of a listening heart.
29. Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
31“Pay attention, Job, and listen to me; be silent, and I will speak. 32 If you have anything to say, answer me; speak up, for I want to vindicate you. 33 But if not, then listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.”