One of the things I do when I’m bored is scroll through Pinterest. Every now and then something sticks out well enough I’ll remember it long after viewing it for the first time. One of these things was a twitter post someone stuck on Pinterest. I’m not sure who this guy is, but Tobias S. Buckell tweeted, “As a parent the coolest tool I learned a while back was when one of my kids starts complaining to me about something was to say “do you need me to get involved, offer advice, or just to listen to you? 9/10 they just want my ear.”
As adults we are the same way. We let things pile up to the point were we need to let off steam. We don’t want anyone to fix what we’re dealing with, just need someone who seems to care enough to listen. The flip side is we need to understanding enough to know when someone only needs an ear. Sometimes we are so ready to give advice because we’re eager to help that we forget what it feels like in that moment when you want to just talk and be heard. I’ve done this myself, trying to give advice when none was really needed, and not recognizing what that person truly wanted nor hearing them out fully. I’ve also been on the other side of that, wanting so badly to be heard only to have someone who is ready to give advice trying to give it without letting me finish.
Friends, it is frustrating sometimes when you need someone to listen and no one seems to hear you. Or even when you have someone ready to listen but are focused on giving advice. I imagine people have been frustrated with me, too, because of either of these. I’ve made the mistake of doing both and I’m working on correcting it. We need to learn to stop and listen, just like God does.
“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”Micah 7:7
God listens to our prayers everyday. He loves to hear us, whether it’s prayer or singing. He is always with us, but, unfortunately, we don’t always acknowledge His presences beside us. When we do acknowledge Him, though, He listens. Why? Because He cares, because He loves us. Imagine a toddler coming up to you, barely above the height of your knee, and telling you with the most enthusiasm they can muster about what the puppy just did, going ‘like woah, cool!’ then running off with a smile on their face. We didn’t learn anything new, nor did we have to add our impute to the conversation. We only had to listen, and we’re happy to have done so because we got to see their smiling, excited face.
That’s how God is. Yes, sometimes we pray with only requests in mind, but we need to remember to pray just to talk to Him. When something amazing happens in our lives, we need to be like that little toddler and run up to God eager to thank Him for the blessing and tell Him how it helped brighten our day. In the same way, He also wants to listen to us when we’re down. He wants to hear our troubles, because if we’re telling Him what’s bothering us that means we’re leaning on Him for support. This also means we trust in the fact that He cares.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”Proverbs 3:5
As God listens to us, we must also listen to those around us. We need to show others that we care for them just like Jesus cares for them. While we must feed those in need, simply handing over food sometimes isn’t enough. You’ll feed them for a day and that’s great. We need more people to help those who are struggling. However, ‘caring for those in need’ doesn’t have only one meaning. There are people in need of a Savior because their souls are still broken. There are people in need of a shoulder to cry on because their last living relative/friend just passed away. There are people dealing with abuse: mental, physical, sexual, and emotional. There are people who feel as if no one cares because no one visits them in the hospital, nursing home, or a campus for special needs.
Listening can also go the other way. There are some who want to be the one others turn to when an ear is needed. They want to hear your voice and know you’re willing to talk to them. I have a friend who is non-vocal but has a smile that can light up the world. Yesterday I read to her and received the blessing of her beautiful laugh. Others had never seen her so happy, myself included. Come to find out, she loves hearing someone read to her, to take time out of their day to sit with her and read. And it has to be Disney; that’s her favorite. Caring includes listening. Have you listened today?
“When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?”Psalm 8:3-4