I love conversation. The exchange of experiences and ideas borders on the miraculous when you consider how specific our lives are to ourselves. How to explain this thing going on inside my head? This dance of images and ideas, memories and dreams, each of them presenting themselves for my further consideration constantly, falling into my mind like so many snowflakes. But then I want to offer them to you as well, and say, “Look at that” or “listen to this” or “Help me understand why that thought just flittered in.”
Dallas Willard thinks our life is our thought-life. I’m not willing to go that far, but he’s pretty close. And to unpack these lives of ours seems to be one of the things we are built to help each other with. It’s so strange that we have to pay people to be friend enough to sit and listen and ask the provocative kinds of questions that help us re-imagine our lives. They’re called therapists, and they’re so helpful, but why can’t we just get more skilled at listening and asking wall-breaking questions?
I think one of the keys to opening the locked doors inside each other is to follow the advice of Jesus that St. Matthew records. It’s simple really…”Do not judge.” There’s the whole conversation about discerning and knowing right from wrong, blah, blah, blah, but it’s very profound to simple be present with the person you’re listening to, and create a space whereby they can speak their lives. How strange that we want to control and comment and instruct and fix and otherwise really miss the person trying to offer us something. Listening is a rare thing. Listening because someone’s actually interested is even rarer. Listening without judgment is a great, great gift. It not only spurs conversation, but it fosters the kinds of connections people long for, that a Facebook post just can’t deliver.
Stay tuned. I’m looking for ways to initiate and sustain great conversations. I’ve got some ideas that will require intentionality and effort, but who knows. Maybe this will be the year I’ll hear the world truly speak, and for the first time, listen…
Create a space for someone to speak their life today…
One Reply to “Listening and the Hunger for Great Conversation”
You suggested last year that we choose a single word or command from Jesus to challenge us for the coming year. I chose, “Judge not.” Thank you for the reminder. This year the word is “relationship”. What does it mean and how do I achieve meaningful relationships? I think you are suggesting a challenging place to start. God bless.