Wednesday, March 24, 2010
lenten 40: day 31 - take time to listen
Listen. "Listen to the sound of the falling rain". Hear. "Hear the birds chirping". Two words we use interchangeably in today's culture. Is there a difference... and does that difference matter?
The verb "to hear" means to be aware of sounds in your ears, so when there is a sound (for example the radio is on) and you receive that sound through your ears.
That verb "to listen (to)" means to pay attention to somebody/something that you can hear. So when you listen to something or somebody you make an effort to hear it or them. When you hear something you usually don't have to make an effort — it just happens (provided your ears are intact of course.)
So in short, yes, there is a difference. Listening is only possible when one hears an audible sound. Anyone (with intact hearing) can hear but not anyone can (or will) listen.
All too often we get caught up in our own lives and hear the world around us but never stop to listen what that world is saying. Have you ever wondered why some people aren't open to sharing with others? Maybe they realized that those they thought were listening were instead only nodding their head along at the words but taking no time to process what was being said.
How often to we take the time to listen to others? When we ask someone "How are you", do we really want to know how they are or are we asking as a conversation filler? What would happen if someone broke down and really answered the question... would we listen or just hear the words and pray that they would end soon b/c we have something else on our plate? How often do you hold back the truth of "how you are" because you realize that the "asker" isn't really interested?
What stories are we missing... what stories do you have to tell? If only we would just learn to listen...
~Jen Beck, The Voices Within Me
"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.