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“Being” (Quick) to Listen

I wonder why James said “be” quick to listen and not just command: “Listen quickly”.

I have been pondering more about the concept of listening as I have been working as a therapist, and realized how important that is to any relationship. I have also wondered what it would be like if more people including professed Christians were more attuned listeners.

Sometimes we as friends, parents, and brothers/sisters, fellow believers may feel like we may look like we are listening, with closed lips and eyes in contact, but have our minds on our own interpretations and advice instead of truly listening with our whole being—heart, body, as well as the mind. Research has apparently indicated that in communication, only 7 per cent is actual content/words, 38 per cent is tone and how you say things, and 55 percent or majority by definition is body language.

I recently had a client who will remain anonymous, who came in pretty anxious and talked pretty much non-stop throughout the session, with pressured speech, and complaining about relationship(s). I sat there trying to catch her words and sometime wondering where she was heading. She had initially had an annoyed look on her face as she was complaining. As her history of trauma unfolded, it slowly became sad, and I could not help but feel her pain. I tried to stay with her emotionally, just being there, joining her, feeling the sacredness of the shared space and trust. This was the quietest I ever remember being…both in spirit and in speech. At the end of the session the client was reluctant to leave saying “I love coming here, you look at me like I’m special”. I assured her she was. I have Jesus to thank for days like those.

James, being the brother of Jesus, saw first hand how Jesus (the best Listener), “was”—fully present to the person at hand, fully attuned to their emotions, and aware of how his own heart is moved by them, and their being. … “being with”, “joining with”, “feeling with”, or empathizing with the suffering person in front of us.

The great “I AM” used the present tense to describe Himself. Because He is…. always present in the here and now, in the moment. Time is not a limit for him, yet He is waiting with us. He is …there beside us. He is….Crying, laughing, feeling with us. How beautiful the great “I AM”.
Jesus was so fully in tune with the whole person in the moment, that at times He did not mind verbal silence…when after He resurrected, He sat with his disciples before He reinstated Peter, the Bible says they knew it was the Lord, but did not say anything (John 21:13). Awkward silence did not bother Him. He knew the power of shared space that was non-judgmental, grace-filled, loving, and forgiving

According to Desire of Ages, the very moment of Peter’s repentant heart for his betrayal was with the presence of Jesus’ non-judgmental look of love and forgiveness from Jesus. Probably a “look” that was lovingly attuned to Peter’s tortured heart.

He was also very curious, not presumptuous as He listened. This not only allowed Him to engage people of various backgrounds in an authentic level, but He asked questions that went beyond the surface, into the heart’s pain and hopes. Do you remember the conversation with the woman at the well? (Read John 4 –his conversation with the Samaritan Woman at the Well).
He met her where she was, at a well getting water, doing what she needed to do daily, in the moment of her day. His non presumptious, non judgmental kind presence and engagement, and trust broke down cultural barriers.

We cannot give what we don’t have, and have not received. Jesus was fully attuned and present to the person in front of him because He was attuned and present to Himself, and who He was, and where His power and peace came from. (“I and the Father are one, John 10:30). And as listeners in our relationships, we cannot “be” there for a person, unless we have been “heard” ourselves, in such a way. And so much of the church is “quick to speak” instead of “being”…. quick to listen . What are some ways that you and I can take time to “be”…..with oneself, “be” “heard” in loving Presence (The “I AM”) that IS quick to listen?


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