Listen Well

Welcome to Day 7 of 31 Simple Ways to Embrace Lopsided Living!

When we choose to practice lopsided living — embracing the idea that balance isn't the goal — learning to listen well is vital! We have to listen to what God tells us, what others are saying, and even what we're saying to ourselves, and then assess and evaluate the information to make our decisions. Sometimes we have lots of time to do this and sometimes it happens in a split second.Can you believe we are wrapping up our first week? It’s been fun to see all the tweets and IG posts and FB shares of Lopsided Living truths. This is something near and dear to me and to have a community of women embrace it alongside me is a gift!

Wednesday I was talking to a friend about where life has us these days. Her girls are all grown and she is learning the joy of the empty nest season of life. As I listened to her share what God is teaching her right now, I was encouraged and challenged to make the most of the days I have left with my own girl at home.

Conversation is important to me … I love those lingering conversations that meander from topic to topic and have silent interludes as the people involved ponder what has been said. Last week in Nashville, I sat in a hotel lobby with a few extremely awesome women and I’m pretty sure we could have solved all the world’s problems if someone would have given us the opportunity. As the conversation moved into the deep waters of racial issues in our culture and how we raise children who value others because we are all made in the image of God, I noticed something — we were all leaning in to listen to each other.

Listening well is vital to lopsided living.

I was on the debate team in high school and in college. We spent hours in the library researching for the debate topic, reading newspaper articles on microfiche and paying to copy them {am I showing my age?}, clipping articles from magazines and journals, and writing notes and data on long yellow legal pads. Life without Google was much more tedious.

We’d gather our arguments and make them into a case. And then, we’d gather all the evidence and data opposing our case and make briefs to use for rebuttals. We did practice rounds of debate, searching for the holes in our cases and finding new ways to both support and reject the proposition topic.

But the true test was always at the competitions. We’d drag in our crates of carefully labeled file folders, unpack our briefcases full of legal pads, colored pens, and more files. We shook hands with the opposing team and were welcomed by the judge. And then the fun began.

An hour of back and forth argumentation, sometimes quite heated and always very loud. As the one team shared their case, the other team searched through countless files and took copious notes about sources, dates, and arguments. Affirmative case, negative case, first rebuttal, second rebuttal, and final rebuttal. It was seriously the most fun! A match of passion and preparation, personality and persuasion. Four people on two teams arguing hard for the win.

And one person listening attentively to every word.

The judge had all the power. He or she determined who had made the better case and ultimately declared the winner of the round.

I remember moving from debater to judge after I finished college. It was  a hard transition. As each team presented their case, my head was spinning with responses and I had to fight the urge to jump into the fray. But my role had changed. I was now the listener. And listening required even more attention to detail than debating.

I had to learn a new skill set. Not that we didn’t listen to other team as we debated, we had to in order to develop our responses to their arguments. But our job was to listen and respond. The judge’s job was simply to listen and, after listening, assess and evaluate.

When we choose to practice lopsided living — embracing the idea that balance isn’t the goal — learning to listen well is vital! We have to listen to what God tells us, what others are saying, and even what we’re saying to ourselves, and then assess and evaluate the information to make our decisions. Sometimes we have lots of time to do this and sometimes it happens in a split second.

Consider these verses:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. James 1:19

Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord. Proverbs 16:20

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. Proverbs 18:2

The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out. Proverbs 20:5

Listening is an important skill in the life of a believer, one we should cultivate with great diligence.  As we learn to listen well, we will be more aware of the Presence of God in our lives and more in tune with the people around us. This helps us make better choices about how we allocate our time and priority.

So, what is the simple way for today? I love this one, even though it’s hard for me.

DON’T INTERRUPT ANYONE! LET OTHERS COMPLETELY FINISH WHAT THEY ARE SAYING BEFORE YOU REPLY OR RESPOND.

I know you’re thinking this sounds easy, but let me assure you, it isn’t. But, it is an important exercise for us to begin to understand how listening well impacts every aspect of our lives.

Today's #LopsidedLiving challenge: don't interrupt anyone! Listening well impacts every area of our lives! Click To Tweet

Living lopsided,

Teri Lynne

Yesterday’s post: Learn contentment.

Tomorrow’s post: Progress matters more than perfection.

Index to every post in series here.

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