I was browsing in a used bookstore one day (a favorite pastime of mine), and my eyes fell on this title: "Listening is an Act of Love."
YES, my heart said. Yes it is. I snapped that book up and devoured it at home. I suggest you do the same — it's fantastic.
Listening is a huge value for me. A character trait, a way of being, a gift. An act of love.
In some ways, this has come from a place of pain. Being a soft-spoken, people-pleasing introvert, I don't often assert myself in conversation. Living in a culture that values assertion, there have been many times when I've felt bulldozed by others in conversation, whether it's just two of us, or a whole circle.
Have you ever had a moment when you were telling a story to several people, and someone else interrupted you? Their phone rings, another person joins the conversation, someone has a related thought and interjects — then no one remembered what you were saying and your story was lost. How did you feel?
It makes me feel shut down. And like I don't want to share anymore.
In contrast, when someone looks me in the eye and really pays attention to what I'm saying, and better yet, asks follow-up questions about what I've shared, I feel so cared for. Loved. Valued. Important. It boosts my confidence, and gives me the heart to do the same for others. It's such a simple way to love someone, yet so infrequently practiced.
I think in many cases, listening is also healing. That's one reason why people go to counseling, right? To be listened to. To find healing through sharing.
My hope is that listening won't just be confined to counseling sessions. I wanted to create a business and a brand that emphasized outward focus. Not something that makes your life alone better, but a way of being that can be passed on to everyone around you.
I also love this wisdom from the Bible, and think it's such a wonderful guide:
I'm curious - how have you felt loved by someone listening to you? Or, how have you shown love to someone else by listening?