Friday, March 7, 2014

Can You Hear Me Now?

...Jesus said, “The people who hear the teaching of God and obey it—they are the ones who have God’s blessing.”
~ Luke 11:28, ERV ~

Have you ever attended a doctor's appointment with your significant other or someone else to support you, and later discovered you each heard different things that were discussed?

Miscommunication happens far more often than we realize.  The mix-up can occur on either the delivering or the receiving end of the exchange.  And when it involves a child with special needs, it becomes far more complex. 

Not being heard or understood correctly can be immensely frustrating for parents like us.  Why do so many of us hate IEP's?  When educators are perceiving a situation in a drastically different way from mom and dad, there's bound to be confusion or conflict.  Similarly, when parental expectations are not the same as a physicians, challenges between patient and provider seem inevitable.

It all comes down to communication.  While every human desires to be understood, in reality, we could all find ourselves much more at peace with others if we improved our listening skills.

A lifelong chatterbox, as a child I can remember my father gritting his teeth and repeating to me the old adage,
"You have 2 ears and 1 mouth.  Listen twice as much as you speak."

God our Father has given parents like us a unique opportunity to practice those skills of observation, which hold eternal value.  After all, if we can't truly hear the people around us, how in the world can we hear what our heavenly Father is trying to tell us?

John M. Grohol, PsyD has a fabulous article over on PsychCentral.com, "Become a Better Listener: Active Listening".  Amongst his many good insights, silence and reflection are recommended.  Asking probing questions is also critical to good listening.

In the context of today's Bible verse, Jesus explains to those around him who are accusing him of driving out demons by the power of Satan, that a kingdom fighting against itself will be destroyed.  The Pharisees and unbelievers of that time were not truly hearing Jesus.  They were not asking questions, probing, testing the fruit of what they observed against the Scripture God had already given them.  Their ears and minds were blocked by pride, by the distractions of daily demands, and by expectations of what their Messiah would ultimately be.

Are parents like us a "house divided against itself"?  Are we tearing apart our own lives by not listening?  Is our pride preventing us from actually hearing that teacher at the IEP meeting?  Is that same pride equally preventing us from hearing and obeying God's will?  Are our unrealistic expectations creating disjointed communication with medical staff?  Do we project those same unrealistic expectations on our Creator?  What if we read our Bibles with those same skills of silencing ourselves, reflecting, and questioning?  How much more could we discover in God's love letter to us?

As we spend the next few weeks meditating on the salvation Jesus bought for us on the cross, let us confess our deficiency at listening and respectfully communicating with the professionals we so greatly rely upon.  Rather than giving something up for Lent, perhaps committing ourselves to the practice of developing better listening skills will make us not only better citizens of this world, but also more obedient children of God.

PRAY:  Father, You gave me 2 ears and 1 mouth.  Grant me the self-control to listen twice as much as I speak. 

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