I met a new friend this week named Cory. Cory can quote the movie "Shrek" as well as entertain people with random, useless information. He has a wonderful sense of humor and loves to joke and tease. Cory also has cerebral palsy. When he first started talking to me, I couldn't understand anything he was saying. In order to understand what Cory was saying, I really had to listen. I had to look at him and focus on him directly. In order to understand Cory, he had to have my undivided attention. It was definitely active listening.
I read a book this week written by an atheist who visited churches. He had many wonderful insights into the Christian culture, and really understood Jesus' teachings quite well. One of the statements he made that caught me said (in essence), "Those who profess to follow Jesus are some of the worst listeners. When they discover that I'm an atheist, they no longer listen or care about me, they just want to convert me." Touche.
There is a lot about "American Christianity" that frustrates me. Our emphasis on the 3 B's (Budgets, Buildings, and Butts) is not seen anywhere in the teachings of Jesus. But I do read this, written by his brother, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry."
I think Mother Teresa said it best, though. "When I pray, I listen. And when I pray, God listens." Maybe with a little more listening, we wouldn't be so quick to judge, so quick to hurt, so quick to defend. Maybe with a little more listening, we'd be a little quicker to love, to laugh, and to live.
Take time today to listen.