Every Lent instead of giving up a food or beverage indulgence I try to give up a bad habit and practice a new virtue. One year, I decided to stop being “speedy Gonzales” rushing around and leaning on my lead foot while driving. I practiced doing the speed limit for six weeks, something that was much easier said than done at least for me. This Lent, I’ve decided to speak less and listen more.
It has only been three weeks, and I have already learned plenty and surprised to find that most people struggle with this virtue as much as I do if not, more. You know what they say be careful what you pray for because you will receive an overabundance of opportunities. I spent hours last night listening to people work through a difficult situation, and all parties had a lot to say. I found myself being the mediator until we finally came to a peaceful resolution that everyone could live with. When I relaid this resolution out to a concerned participant this person instead of listening until I was finished picked out pieces of what I was saying and interjected words of anger before I could complete the story. It kind of reminded me of this quote I saw today on Facebook.
This lack of listening is a dangerously bad habit, and I call it dangerous because, without seriously listening it is easy to jump to false interpretations of what is being said. That often leads to bad feelings, anger, unforgiveness and at time’s sin. When we don’t understand what someone is communicating to us, we have a tendency to jump to the worst possible conclusions, and we let fear rise up in our thoughts, words, and deeds. You know, as well as I do, that when fear shows it’s scary, ugly face we panic and create chaos unnecessarily, and waste our time and others, worrying about something we should not.
How many times do we see this happen with Jesus’ disciples and apostles; look at Judas when he realized he misunderstood Jesus all along then committed suicide, as a result. In the Transfiguration, Peter misunderstood what was happening, so he started talking, a lot and his talking instead of listening caused the entire miracle to stop. Another example is on the road to Emmaus. When some disciples were confused about what had taken place, they became scared and headed out of town until Jesus appeared and clarified the truth to them and calmed their fears. He shows up when fear sets in, and we find ourselves out of sorts. When we let fear settle in we bring more confusion and chaos, but as Jesus shows He enters the chaos to bring the stillness, calm and peace.
During times, when we’ve become poor listeners confused and scared by what we think we understand letting our fears into our imaginations to run wild we can find hope in scriptures like Mark 4:35-41 the storm is raging, and Jesus is sleeping in the boat. His disciples are hysterical, screaming and arguing in complete fear to the point of waking Jesus and accusing him of not caring about them and what does he do? He silences everyone including the wind and the waves.
He calms the storm if we but dare to stop and listen. Think of how many arguments, misunderstandings, conflicts and angry outbursts we could decrease in our lives if we nurtured the virtue of listening?
Jesus calms the sea by using a Greek word phimoo, which translates “Be Still” and is used metaphorically “to silence,” “to render speechless,” or “to subdue to stillness.” Jesus’ not only used this word to calm the wind and sea, but also to free the man from an unclean spirit/demon saying “Be silent and come out of him!” Mark 1:25; Luke 4:35 ~Taken from Mighty in Power The Miracles of Jesus by Jeanne Kun
George Montague, SM, Mark: Good News for Hard Times
When the community or the individual goes through a storm and fears sinking, the disciple’s faith is challenged to believe not only that Jesus is present and is caring for his own, but that he is also Lord of the chaos; his limitless power can meet and redeem the most terrifying disaster.
James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
Proverbs 18:13 If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
Proverbs 17:28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
Proverbs 21:23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.
So how are you doing this Lent? What virtue might you be practicing? And what have you learned along the way? Please share