When I first read the quote: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”  by Stephen R Covey, it really hit me that I definitely fall into the ‘most people’ category.

I usually find it easy enough to navigate my way through a conversation when speaking to a like-minded individual about a topic we both find interesting. (Read female friend ;)

But lately, most of my ‘conversations’ involve a four-year-old retelling an episode of ‘Paw patrol’, or my hubby trying to explain how he converted a hard drive into an operating system. (Or something like that.)

My ‘learning to listen’ experience feels almost the same as praying for ‘patience’, only to discover that it doesn’t come in a neatly wrapped parcel.

I wish I could say that I INTENTIONALLY started speaking less. But the truth is, even if I had the opportunity to verbally process, I wouldn’t even know where to start.

I'm learning that in marriage, motherhood, and living in a culture not my own, some stories are not mine to tell. It is more important to do the deep work of owning my feelings and taking responsibility for my reactions. Set some healthy boundaries.

At one point, I stopped praying for God to change my circumstances and started asking instead; “What are You trying to teach me?

I discovered that the first indication that we’re ready to ‘listen to understand’ is when we start thinking of follow up questions instead of replies. 

So I started taking notes. I didn’t write blog posts or newsletters. I simply escaped for an hour each week and wrestled down words in the white pages of a journal.  

Somewhere in the process, I realized that as bad as I was at listening to other people. That was only the tip of the iceberg.

I made a habit of ignoring my own body to the point of having to be sick to start paying attention and became a master at suppressing emotions for years - if not decades.

Not listening ‘with the intent to understand’ affect how we process information, cope with emotions, and interpret non-verbal signals. Ultimately, it affects our obedience and relationship with God.

Learning to listen is really learning how to love.

Or in the beautiful words of David W. Augsburger “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” 

I want to pause a moment and acknowledge that this e-mail is a one-way conversation. A conversation-starter at best. And if you’ve read this far, thank you! I’m grateful that you are taking the time to ‘listen’ and understand.

Honestly, I feel a little stuck on this end. With a growing desire to hear your heart and your story. I wish I could sit on the other side of a table with two cups of coffee (or tea) instead of behind a screen.

I would ask;

What are you learning in this season of your story?
What are you struggling with?

What makes you laugh?
And how can I pray for you?

Then I'll hopefully get to practice some 'listening with the intent to understand'.

In the meantime, I’ll just pray that you find yourself in a place of knowing you are heard and you are loved by the One who is LOVE.

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