As I’ve given thought to what I’m looking for in a relationship, I’ve become aware of my strong desire to be heard. Oh, I’m quite accustomed to being tolerated and interrupted and endured and nodded-at and stared-at-while-talking.
But being heard is something completely different.
I have this image in my mind of myself sitting at a cafe table across from someone who leaning in to my conversation, looking intently at me, resting his chin on his hands, not fidgeting, not jumping in with his own words, not playing with his phone, not watching everyone else who is dining or walking by, but just listening to me and hearing each word as I form it.
Maybe that’s too unrealistically idealistic of me to want from another human. (I know that I myself have trouble sitting still!) But I don’t have to spend my life waiting for somebody who knows how to listen. I have a Lord who hears me how I long to be heard; and I love Him because of that!
I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. Psalm 116:1-2
There are a few factors that contribute to being a good listener – availability, time, and genuine concern.
Availability is probably the most obvious requirement. Have you ever had a story burning within you, but there was nobody around to listen to you? This could happen in the middle of the night, or while it’s slow at work, or when your go-to human listeners are preoccupied with their own busy lives. Humanly speaking, it is difficult to be always available – both physically and emotionally – to listen to the burdens or cares of another. But God is always nearby, available to listen!
The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. Psalm 145:18
Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off? Jeremiah 23:23
Time goes hand-in-hand with availability. It’s often inconvenient to be a listener because the conversation could go on for hours! Some of the best human conversations I’ve had were at times that cut into my sleeping or eating times. I didn’t have it in my schedule to listen to that friend or loved one, but when they needed someone to listen, I had to postpone other tasks in order to fully bestow my attention.
Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:8
God is unlike us, in that He is not restrained by time. At all times, we can trust Him and pour our heart out before Him who will listen.
I once had an acquaintance tell me that it’s so easy to be a good listener. He suggested, “Just listen for key words here and there, and when they’re done talking, say, ‘Tell me more about [key word].’ It makes it seem like you were following what they were saying, but you don’t actually have to listen to everything they say.”
This may be a good strategy for maintaining an acquaintance relationship, or for dragging out a boring conversation, but you are not going to build a deep relationship by only pretending to listen. Somebody who is a good listener will hear all of your words and also pick up on subtle nuances of facial expressions, tone of voice, and even hesitancy in speaking.
And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Psalm 65:24
God is waiting to hear us and anticipating our next words. He genuinely cares about what we have to say to Him!
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26
I want to leave you with this last thought on being heard. Some humans truly can be good listeners, and it is something that we should aspire to be. However, unlike any human you’ll encounter, God can see our hearts and He listens to even our unspoken needs. Make it a habit to call out to Him first, since He assures us He will listen.
The goodness of God led Amanda to repentance when she was a 12-year-old girl, and despite a heart prone to wander, He daily draws her to Himself. She continues to attend Lehigh Valley Baptist Church where she was raised, and enjoys sharing digital art and snippets of what God is teaching her on her Instagram account (@amandaangrrr). When Amanda isn’t working her day-job of managing an insurance agency, she is likely to be found trying a new local restaurant, sipping a coffee delicacy, learning something from a podcast or audio book, or finding an excuse to show off pictures of her nieces & nephews.