Leah Farmer

Personal perspectives on faith, literature, and life.

Lent 2014: Ash Wednesday

Whenever God does something new, he involves people – often unlikely people, frequently surprised and alarmed people. He asks them to trust him in a new way, to put aside their natural reactions, to listen humbly for a fresh word, and to act on it without knowing exactly how it’s going to work out. — NT Wright in “Lent for Everyone” 

Yesterday as I contemplated what I might give up or add to life in celebration of Lent this year, I was surprised when I felt a quickening to listen. Listen more. Listen better. Listen actively. Listen.

And then this morning in the book I’m taking on this journey with me, the above phrase from NT Wright struck me. Reminded me. Confirmed for me.

Here’s what I know…listening can be very hard. It is nearly impossible for many and dismissed by some. We live in a world where we all tend to like the sound of our own voices and pontification is a normal practice in meeting after meeting. I’m not immune to this fault.

But I’m also not immune to feeling the pain of not being heard. The weight of not having a voice. Invisibility. Judgement.

I can admit that my tendency to speak very directly comes from years of not being heard. I don’t mince words or use a lot of filler because I’m convinced that most people only hear the first 8 words any of us say (if we are lucky) before they start planning a response. I do it. You do it. It’s an epidemic of broken hearing.

I also do it spiritually. God wants to speak a fresh word over me and I keep talking. She gets drowned out and I don’t get the blessing of hearing from the one who knows me best and wants my best.

God listens. I talk.
God talks. I keep talking.

So for Lent this year I am giving up poor listening skills and taking up active listening.  I will make every effort (and ask for a little help from the Holy Spirit) to hear each and every word spoken in my presence. I will also listen humbly for a word from God each evening in my meditation space. And I will make an effort to be compassionate with those who do not listen to me. I won’t mentally plot the death of people who interrupt others. Finally, I will not shrink back or feel less than for not being heard.

Oh…and another thing…also I’m going to give up talking about the weather (something that happens more here than anywhere else I’ve ever lived!). If I have one more conversation about rain I’m going to stand out in the rain and try to drown. Oh..apparently I will still LISTEN to others talk about the weather and respond politely. 😉

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