Personal Meditations on 5 Ws and 1 H : Listen
In seeking the purest, most essential truths about my one little word this year – Listen – I went straight to the good book – and I don’t mean I stalked it on FaceBook. Other sources have plenty to offer as well, and I’ll spend some time this year measuring and comparing the tapestries – but first, I set out to establish a gold standard of what it means to listen, using Biblical scriptures. I’m not going all deep and analytical here – – just getting my heart right
to listen and making sure that I am ready to walk with Listen throughout 2022.
What does it mean to listen?
Where, When, and Why does a listener listen?
Perhaps most importantly, How does one listen?
My brother often tells a story of a high school baseball coach we both know who reminds batters, “you gotta get your feet right” when they come up to the plate. This first coaching look-for is telling, because it implies that stance has everything to do with readiness. I’ve got to get my heart right to be ready to listen, to know whether a pitch is worth the swing.
I’ve heard love defined as the quality of attention we pay to something. My mind went straight to my dogs,
who get more quality attention than most people in my life. If this is true, then listening surely is the quality of thought and action we give to what we take in through hearing, reading, or sensing. It comes as no surprise that LISTEN and SILENT share the same letters.
So WHAT does it mean to listen?
Psalm 34:15 tells me that “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry,” and Psalm 66:19-20 says, “But truly God has listened; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because He has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!” Active listening, as opposed to passive hearing, requires attentiveness. I’ve “gotta get my heart right” to actively listen.
WHO should listen- and WHERE?
One of the most widely quoted verses in all of Jeremiah – and all of the Old Testament- is Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I’ve heard it said of the testaments that in the old, the new is contained, and in the new, the old is explained. Those words- future and hope – remind me that far more is on the horizon than we will ever see in our own current testament era. In verses 12 and 13, I discover who listens and where: “Then you will call upon me and come pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” God is listening, and invites me to call on him. When I do, I find him. He makes my paths known. Listening requires the sought and the seeker – like maybe the Biblical origins of Hide and Go Seek. It’s an interactive process that requires me to get my heart right – to call upon, to hear, to listen. I can seek and listen anyWHERE.
WHEN should I listen?
Psalm 116:1-2 says, “I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live.” I should listen all of my life – a good listener inclines an ear and hears those who call. God is always ready to listen to me, and in turn I should always be a listener whose heart is ready to listen.
WHY should I listen?
Proverbs 16:20 tells me that “Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” Philippians 4:9 says, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” To listen means to give thought to something, to trust, to learn, to receive, to hear and see what is revealed. Listening is more active than hearing, because it involves more than a good set of ears – it requires a receptive heart and a seeking soul. I should listen to seek peace and understanding – by doing this, I can discover the good and reap the blessings.
HOW do I listen?
Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” As a listener, I must have my heart ready – and remain vigilantly on the lookout for the hidden things. A listener is going to gain awareness of things that may not be evident to others. When readers read between the lines, we make inferences – we understand on more than the literal level what is happening. Listening requires more than ears; if I lost my sense of hearing today, I could still be an ever-improving listener. Listening is a full-sensory and cerebral experience that involves more than being a mere hearer of words; listeners are meaning-makers and emotion-feelers. I’m beginning to recognize that listeners are world changers.
As I think of this one little word that I have avoided selecting for so long because of its “one little” confining space I feared would be so limiting, I’m standing here on Day 2 wondering what I’ve gotten myself into with this one not so little word. It’s more like a clumsy Great Dane puppy with oversized feet that needs more room and time and energy than I have. It’s a commitment. It’s why animal shelters stay full. Folks don’t realize what they’re in for. They take a puppy home thinking it’s cute, then turn around to find all sorts of messes everywhere.
Listen is not cute. I have half a mind to take it back – to leave it tied to the door and make a run for it.
…….But I’m committed. Listen can stay. I’m going to have to do the work of getting my heart right, though, if I am to keep fostering it.