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A time to listen

A time to listen
The other day, I heard your mom tell you that you and I share a unique skill. We can both listen to a song once and repeat it seemingly word for word and note for note long after we have heard it. I have witnessed you apply this skill in other instances too. I remember speaking to you one morning about a concept I really wanted you to understand. You appeared to be only half awake as you gazed up at me from the living room couch. Weeks later, I was shocked during a conversation to hear you replay to me the same concept exactly as I had described it.

You are a great listener. You pay attention to the sounds around you, which is no small thing in today’s world, and you absorb it all. In times like these, listening in this way is an increasingly difficult thing to do. There is so much noise out there, and so few are slowing down. You know how it feels to be around someone who speaks nonstop but doesn’t seem to care what we have to say. It leaves us feeling ignored, or that we don’t matter. Finding people who are “slow to speak and quick to listen” [James 1:19] is quite rare. Yet you manage it, and it’s no surprise your friends share things with you they don’t tell anyone else. Listening shows you care about them, and everyone wants to feel cared for.

As you grow older, remaining a good listener becomes increasingly challenging for several reasons:
  • You accumulate knowledge as you age, and you know more about more. Be careful not to let it get to your head. Nobody likes a know-it-all.
  • You get busy, taking on more and more responsibility with an ever-expanding to-do list. This tends to make slowing down and listening harder.
  • There are more distractions: things going on inside your mind or heart, or in your environment that compete for your attention and make it more difficult to truly listen to the people.
As the world speeds up and we all get busier and busier, it is a challenge to “tune out the noise”, but it is doable. You’ll be doing a lot of that during your journey.

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