Wednesday, December 9, 2009
L is for Listening
My husband is an audiologist. He deals with people who can't hear to one degree or another everyday. He also comments that half of his business is marriage counseling. If you have ever taken a "how to be a better person" class, lecture, note, pamphlet, etc. under whatever guise, there is always a section on how to be a better listener. I remember in the MTC, learning to be a missionary, there was a section in the handbook on listening to the person you are teaching.
If everyone on this planet (well, 99%) is born with the ability to hear, why do we need so much training to listen? Obviously there is a big difference. Part of the problem is that our ears are so easily overwhelmed by our eyes. If I had a nickel for every time I pretended to listen to my children while actually doing something else I would be on a beach in Bermuda instead of writing this post.
Even when we intend to listen, our brains put up this competitive sideshow to distract us. My husband comes in and starts talking about his day. A sentence or two in he mentions lunch and then my brain starts thinking about dinner, what we should have, if I have the ingredients, if I want to eat what I am going to make, etc. And I haven't actually heard anything my sweetheart has said. This happens more than I want to admit.
So why am I thankful for something that isn't in my life often enough? Because when I make the effort wonderful things happen; my relationship with my husband improves, not only are my children better behaved, but they are happier and I learn things about them. The funny thing about listening is, the things we allow in front of the conversation are very rarely as important as the conversation itself.
Perhaps the most important listening we can do is to the Holy Ghost. Our Father in Heaven wants to talk to us, but if we never turn off the electronics long enough to hear, who is at fault when we feel we lack guidance. In her recent talk Sister Beck suggested putting a pad of paper and a pencil near where we pray at night. Then spend some time listening. It might seem silly to stop praying in the middle to write something down, but it is better than forgetting it.
I am grateful for what I hear when I listen. I am grateful for how I feel when someone listens to me. And I am most grateful for what I feel when I listen to the Holy Ghost.