“Listening is actually a person’s ability to be with another person physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.”
Anthony Meindl, At Left Brain Turn Right
Listening lets a person know their thoughts and feelings are valued, that they are valued. I have been thinking lately about the ways we negate others instead of accept them. We interrupt them, plan responses, and finish their sentences. These tactics can be a sort of verbal and mental strangulation. There is no room to breathe or think, when one or the other is intent on shaping or controlling the conversation and the pattern of thought.
If we are afraid to “be” with our thoughts and feelings, then we will likely be afraid to “be” with another person in theirs. If we’ve been shut down, it is easier to see how we might find our thoughts and feelings unacceptable.
The first step in being a good listener is to be heard, to receive the attentiveness of good listeners. A friend who listens is truly golden. Someone who listens well can see positive truths and can call us out on the negative untruths we carry. Their active listening can encourage us and help us sift through things so we can keep the good and toss mental clutter.
In addition, meditation, reflection and prayer can be good practices simply in making room for our thoughts and feelings. God is not fazed by our discomfort with them. He is a very good listener — and he often speaks when we stop talking. When I am honest and acknowledge my thoughts and feelings (the good, the bad, and the ugly), without packaging them or tailoring them, I find he meets me there. And he comes quickly.
“The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” (Psalm 34:17-18)