Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
Some people are really good about not interrupting during conversations. They have my admiration! I'm still working on it.Skip to next paragraph
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Interrupting is a habit that seems difficult to break. When thoughts are running head over heels, it's hard not to try getting them out all at once. And if you have two people talking together, it can really be frustrating: "Stop interrupting and let me interrupt for a change!"
It takes grace to listen patiently and to value another person's viewpoint and experience. We all want to feel appreciated. But if you are speaking with someone, sharing something of importance to you, and he or she is not paying attention, you don't feel valued by that person.
The Bible makes clear that deeds, not words, show the caliber of a person's life. This is helpful. What we say can reflect the sincerity of our heart's desire-a kind of living prayer. Jesus Christ told his followers, "When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking" (Matthew 6:7).
Each one of us is created to express God distinctly. Cultivating the habit of listening to and valuing each other as children of God is a way to learn more of God and to notice the spiritual qualities He expresses in us. These are qualities such as the intelligence of divine Mind, the kindness and mercy of divine Love, the integrity of divine Truth, and the creativity of divine Life.
God is the one communicator. I'm learning more about His communication by studying God's spiritual laws-Christian Science. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered God's laws and their applicability to human living, wrote, "The intercommunication is always from God to His idea, man." That is from the textbook of Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 284).
Listening to God doesn't involve having others hear us speaking as much as it involves our hearing His voice, sometimes expressed in the words and actions of others. And of course we can in the same way express His love to others through our own words. Is your voice temperate and meek, or strident and loud, commanding attention? It never hurts to cultivate in one's own thinking the stillness that reflects the nature of God, rather than the agitation of a fast-talking mortal. The better the thoughts, the better the words that express them.
It's a fact that God is forever expressing Himself. The very ideas you need at this moment are coming to you from Him. Wait, and see how He reveals them when you are still and listening for them. You might then be prompted to speak; if so, well and good. If not, you can be a good listener, genuinely valuing the intelligent thoughts others share.
We are not responsible for the communication of God's ideas. God alone is. Being quiet long enough to let those ideas be communicated-being still enough, receptive enough, to hear His messages-that's our responsibility. Then those ideas won't fall by the wayside simply because we just can't stop talking long enough to hear them.
We can start improving our listening habits at any point. Anyone can pray as the Bible says Job did, asking God, "Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred" (Job 6:24).
Genuine love for others prompts in us the desire to be thoughtful, appreciative listeners and communicators. Loving others because God loves us all naturally cultivates in us sincere interest in what another thinks and feels. There's no need to prove to others that you have value when you feel assured that God loves and values every one of His children. Your maturing understanding of this fact brings you freedom to hear His voice without interruption. You may find you have less to say. But don't be surprised if, when you do speak, other people really listen.
Shew me thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths. Lead me
in thy truth, and teach me: for
thou art the God of my salvation;
on thee do I wait all the day.
Psalms 25:4, 5