RELIGION : The Power of Listening

Tom Tripp | tomtripp@frontiernet.net

Have you considered the power of listening?  Have you considered the positive effect listening can have on another person?

In his book, Caring Enough to Hear and Be Heard, David Augsburger points out, “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.”

Such a simple observation…but so accurate!  Think about the people in your life from whom you have experienced the deepest degree of love.  I’ll bet the people who come to mind are those who have listened to you well.

Or consider it from the opposite perspective.  When have you felt most shut down or rejected or devalued?  I would bet it corresponds to times when you felt that you were not listened to.

Listening does not come easily.  It takes attention.  It takes humility.  It takes love.  It takes genuine interest in and care for the other person.  But when listening happens, love happens, and good things often follow.

Let’s face it: Some people are easy to listen to; others are not.  If truth be told, there are some people we avoid listening to.  What might happen, though, if we would give the time and energy to listen even to those we tend to avoid?

In his book, The Power Delusion, Tony Campolo shares a story that challenges me.  Here’s how my friend Joel Solliday summarizes Campolo’s story:

“There was a woman who lived in Philadelphia commonly referred to as ‘the Duck Lady’ because she had an extreme nervous disorder that resulted in her making a quacking sound constantly.  Once an attempt had been made to institutionalize her, but eventually she was turned loose on the streets.  She wandered through the crowds in the heart of the city for several years quacking uncontrollably.  Scorned and laughed at, she became a dirty and pathetic sight and people did their best to avoid her.

“One day a friend of Campolo’s was on the street corner when the Duck Lady came up next to her.  She quacked wildly, and at first this friend looked for the fastest route of escape.  Then she suddenly realized that Jesus was there, waiting to be loved in that unattractive and disoriented woman.  His friend turned to her and asked, ‘How are you feeling today?  I see you often, and I worry about you.  Is there any way I can help?’

“Most people would never ask such a question because of the desperate fear that she might say yes!  Surprisingly, the woman suddenly stopped her quacking, turned to this friendly woman and said, ‘I’m not feeling well, and it is so very thoughtful of you to think of me in my suffering.  God bless you for being so kind.’

“The light at the corner changed and everyone continued on their way.  The Duck Lady continued her quacking but for a moment, it seemed that love had broken through.”

We never know for sure what might happen, but when we take the time to listen, we give love the chance to break through.

—Tom Tripp is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Colusa. Pastor Tripp can be reached by e-mail at: tomtripp@frontiernet.net

SHARE
avatar
Tom Tripp is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Colusa. Pastor Tripp can be reached by e-mail at: tomtripp@frontiernet.net