Silence

 

“Remember, before you speak, it is necessary to listen,” Mother Theresa

Nothing-Nice-to-Say

Arguments. Gossip. Hostility. Name-calling. Contempt. All this occurs in an atmosphere of wanting to be right, of not listening, of refusing to be slow enough to speak in order that we hear and learn. This kind of talking does nothing but stroke our own ego.

He then called the crowd together and said, “Listen, and take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.” (Matthew 15:11)

How can we, in a climate of division and mistrust, practice the skill of taking a step back in order to arrive at a willingness to listen? And not just listen to form a reply, but listen with the intent of understanding.

This kind of listening accomplishes several things.

  1. It helps us widen our own narrow perception of reality
  2. It helps us form relationships
  3. It helps us understand the experiences, history and hurts of other people
  4. It helps us, if we are Christians, unify us with our brothers and sisters in Christ
  5. It allows us to hear the voice of God through the Holy Spirit

Of course, we must desire to step back from anger, practice thinking before speaking, prefer to find common ground, and aspire to approach people with openness and compassion. If we don’t, then we simply choose to reject, condemn and despise.

As we stay silent and think – seriously consider our words before we speak, weigh the consequences of our words on others, take time to evaluate the words of others, and reflect on how words that float on social media have an effect on you and the children you know – we begin to form conclusions driven by more than our momentary and sometimes incendiary reactions to an event.

We are able to respond in a way that includes listening to understand.

So faith comes from hearing the message, and the message heard is what Christ spoke. (Romans 10:17)

We are able and willing to widen our perspective to see another point of view. We are able and willing to have compassion for the experiences of people unlike ourselves. We are able and willing to seek common ground and thus solutions, instead of blame. We are able and willing to find unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. And finally, we are able and willing to hear the blessing of God’s voice.

“In silence we will find new energy and true unity. Unity is the fruit of prayer, of humility, of love…We cannot find God in noise or agitation… In silence He listens to us; in silence He speaks to our souls. In silence we are granted the privilege of listening to His voice.” Mother Teresa

 

Mother Teresa quotes from No Greater Love, ©1997, New World Library, MJF Books, NY, NY

 

10 comments

  1. Amen, Susan, to “listen with the intent to understanding”. I’ve fallen short of this so many times, but it’s my goal in and out of my home. My teens give me plenty of opportunities to practice. 🙂
    Blessings ~ Wendy

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    1. lol! Yes, Wendy, me too.
      I remember especially when I was “in business,” formulating my answer before someone was even done talking. Horrible habit. :-/

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      1. I know what you mean. I need to remind myself that I’m on an adventure; I need to pay close attention. People will speak beyond the shallows if they’re listened to deeply.

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  2. I think one of the reasons that human beings have so much trouble listening is that our thoughts try to convince us that we don’t have to listen. We already “know”. We have our pre-loaded assumptions, and the ideas we are fond of, and we aren’t willing to loosen our grip on our possessions. To desire to broaden our worldview through active listening, we first need to acknowledge the limits of our own perspective. And this is a matter of the heart.

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    1. You’ve said it so well! And we have a difficult time with that acknowledgement. You’re absolutely right – it’s a matter of the heart.
      Thank you so much for this thoughtful and introspective comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Profound Susan. Simple and yet so rare.Thank you.

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    1. Thank you, Paul. Simple, yes, but so easy to forget, eh?

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  4. Your words ring so true. I have problems speaking before I think quite often, and this causes friction in my marriage often. You’d think would learn! There is an old saying I like to try and emulate. “God gave us two ears and one mouth so we would listen more and speak less.” Oh, that I could always live that! Thank you for a wonderful reminder of how important silence is.

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    1. It’s so true, Pete. I do the same thing and I write these blogs to myself first.
      So go apologize to your wife today and tell her how much you love her! 😀

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