I am married to a Listener. In all honesty, I shudder to think what might have happened to me if I had not married a Listener. I am not a Listener by nature. If I do not keep things tightly in check, my emotions explode all over the place and when they do I tend to suffer a temporary hearing loss. In other words, I am no longer listening to anyone, including God, except myself. I strongly suspect I am not the only person who finds themselves in this state. We can justify ourselves all we want but the truth of the matter is, this state of being helps no one, including ourselves and in fact, causes division, anger, misunderstanding, hurt feelings, etc.
I first saw my husband when a small group of freshmen decided to explore the woods surrounding our campus the first Saturday after the beginning of the fall semester. I wasn't impressed. I was in fact, paying attention to someone else. In his defense, he wasn't impressed with me either. All he saw was a loud, opinionated, independent woman whom he believed must be a radical feminist who firmly stood her ground and would not be cowered by man. Irritated by the "Helpless Southern Belle" facade of some of the other girls, probably did make me even more outspoken than usual. No wonder his instinct was "handle with care".
We kept bumping into each other. Granted, there were only about 300 students on campus but it was more than that. We uh... seemed to connect with the same people. It is hard to avoid someone when you are both new to an area and you share all the same friends.
A little over a month later, we found ourselves together once again in the company of several other people. It was decided to climb a high hill across the road.
I was hurting that day. In addition to homesickness, I was still grieving the death of my father who had passed away nearly a year earlier. I had made a lot of new friends and yet at the moment I felt very much alone. While the other people wandered off, I found myself sitting beside this guy I had been unimpressed with, this guy I did not know very well and pouring out my heart. And what did he do? He listened.
He did not offer advice. He did not share any stories though I was to later learn his mom had passed away the previous year as well. He did not mouth platitudes nor did he appear to be thinking about what he was going to say. With his eyes fixed intently on me, he simply listened to what I needed to say.
Once I had my say, I felt so much better. I was ready to "get in the game" again so to speak. Then I felt a bit flustered. I had just unloaded my stuff on a guy whom I barely knew. What on earth did he think of me?
I mumbled an apology for crying on his shoulder. He simply smiled, patted his windbreaker-covered shoulder and said, "That's okay. I'm wearing a water-proof jacket."
See, I told you I am married to a listener and have been for 37 years as of next Wednesday.
No, we did not start dating that day. That didn't happen until months later but he was no longer that "geeky guy" and I was no longer the radical feminist that he needed to keep his distance from. We became friends, true friends, best friends and the rest is history.
Over the years, he has taught me how to become a better listener. I am not there yet but by watching him in action I have definitely made some progress.
Jesus is a good listener. In the New Testament, he did not merely preach, teach or talk to people. He listened to their problems. Sometimes he would ask them a guiding question but he genuinely listened to their response, giving them his full attention.
If we truly want to follow Jesus, we must learn to be good listeners because that's exactly what he does.