Listening to stories
During COVID-19 our business slowed down, so Ken and I took the opportunity to learn some new skills, specifically in relation to video recording. A week ago Ken told me about a one month challenge he was going to do with a group Live Streaming Pros, about telling stories and listening to stories.
The 31 Day Challenge
The challenge, 31 Days to being Youniquely you on camera, involves doing a live stream to a private Facebook group, speaking to a question/topic provided by Live Streaming Pros. For example, ‘What is holding you back?’
One of the important aspects of the group is the giving and receiving of encouragement to other group members, of which there is 543 globally. It is a fascinating environment with plenty of stories to listen to. There are lots of Christians in the group, learning how to tell their stories in a more effective way. Actually that’s why I decided to join Ken in this challenge, to improve my communication skills on video so I can more effectively share stories about Jesus.
However the other morning after I had completed a live stream, I was doing the dishes (because the mundane activities of life have to be done!) and was thinking about how interesting it was listening to people learning how to share their faith and their dreams etc in this group. And I felt God say to me, “I want you to listen to the other stories too and learn from them.”
Listen to the other stories
By ‘Other stories’ I knew God was referring to the people in the group who were obviously from other cultures and religions – remember this group has 543 people from all over the world who want to tell their stories more effectively, mostly with the goal of helping others.
This instruction from God about listening to the stories and learning from them, reminded me of recent messages I had heard at church in relation to The Stolen Generation (Donna Meehan) and Gender-related issues. How easy is it to only listen to the things that make us feel comfortable, rather than the stories that challenge our thinking and hopefully our actions.
So my response to God was, “Okay God, I will listen to the other stories too. Give me insight to hear what is being said and understand more about people. Please help me to listen with my heart.“
Of course this ‘listening’ doesn’t only apply to the videos in the lifestreaming group, it applies to all areas of our lives.
Listening to my children
As a mum I haven’t always been a good listener, either because I have been too busy to listen, or I have already made assumptions about what I would hear from the mouth of my child, or about the scenario that has played out.
Over the years though I have learned that when I hear the words, ‘Mum’ it is best to stop and completely shift my attention to the person. Even if sometimes only to say, ‘I will just finish this job and then I can speak with you.’ Of course I am not perfect at this and sometimes its a couple of hours until I ‘finish the job!’ But most times I do try to respond with that initial acknowledgement.
Stopping making assumptions has been a little bit more challenging for me, especially as the children grow and change. Sometimes after my ‘assumption response’ they have had had to say to me, ‘Mum, I’m not like that anymore. I don’t do that now.’ And I’ve had to say sorry, and make a mental note to myself that they have changed. We can all be better listeners, especially with those closest to us.
But who is going to listen to me?
On the flipside, have you ever felt like, ‘Who is listening to me? I am listening to my husband, my children, etc, but who is taking time to listen to me?’
There is One who is always available to listen to us, and doesn’t make assumptions about what we are going to say. Yes, He knows us completely, but He listens graciously and loves us unconditionally.
Lord, you know everything there is to know about me.
You perceive every movement of my heart and soul,
and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind.
You are so intimately aware of me, Lord.
You read my heart like an open book
And you know all the words I’m about to speak
before I even start a sentence!
You know every step I will take before my journey even begins.
Psalm 139:1-4 TPT
How wonderful is it to know that. Before I go to sleep I can chat with Him, leave my concerns with Him …
Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 TPT
When I wake up I can ask Him for direction for the day …
Show me Your ways, O LORD;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.
Psalm 25:4-5 NKJV
And then the onus is on me again – to listen to God’s teaching and instructions.
God, please help us to listen well
I wonder how much have we missed about life and people because we haven’t listened properly? At home? At school? At work? At church? In social settings? Are we listening to stories people want or need to tell us?
Let’s ask God today to help us to listen well, listen with our heart (bypassing all the assumptions), and listen for the actions God wants us to take in response to what we hear.
Looking for more encouragement?
If you have struggling to trust God with something or someone in your life, my latest ebook may be of help to you, Choosing to trust God. It’s a short summary (only 18 pages!) of what God has been teaching me over the past 10 years about moving from a place of fear to faith. It is now available on Amazon for only $4.64.