Today, I heard the wind. It was as though it was saying something. I’ve never seen the wind, only it’s effects. If faith is evidence of things unseen, maybe the wind is speaking a language we can only understand in the stillness. Many times when I have meetings outside of the office, I meet at one of my favorite local spots for coffee and such. In between some of my meetings, I may have a few moments of waiting before the next person. During that time, you wouldn’t believe how obvious it is how we love to hear ourselves talk. Everyone one is jumping over each other’s words and phrases to get to what they each want to say next. It’s exhausting. Thanks headphones.
This is a simple reminder that in hearing someone speak, we will hear what is said and what isn’t said. Calming our agenda and opportunity to speak may just help us actually comprehend what is being communicated.
Some steps that may help a posture for listening: Take some deep breathes before beginning. Clear your mind of certain have to’s in the conversation. don’t feel like you have to get a certain response or comment. Put mobile devices away or at least turn them over. I know we’re all looking for the next Instagram photo op, but let’s be honest, checking your phone is rude while someone is speaking. have a goal of the other person leaving knowing that they have had an authentic and life-giving conversation with another human.
Cynicism is tiring. I’m going to try to talk less, listen more; fear less, hope more; do less, rest more; whine less, breathe more. On a personal level, setting a posture for listening means we need to change our environment to be conducive to listening. Maybe it is no accident that silence and listen are spelled with some of the same letters.
Once upon a time we would answer the question of "how are you doing?" with "fine" as if we didn't want to burden people with an authentic response. Today, the answers is overwhelmingly "busy". Maybe it was once an real answer, but now it tends to be a default answer. "Busy" doesn't even describe how we are doing.
I wouldn't argue that we think that we are all very busy, nor would I actually deny we ARE busy. What is it about us today that find ourselves without margin? Does society project guilt towards the thought and act of slowing down? This will erode us from the inside out if and when it becomes reality. Do we wear our clutter and activity like an award that we have won?
Maybe we are hoping for a moment of peace, stillness, or even meaning. Even church activity is more about activity where it was once an environment of being still, learning, Holy communion.
Being busy should never be a badge of honor. After a certain amount of time a state of being isn't how we are doing, it is who we are. If and when our activity level defines who we are, our humanity is diminished.
So, as we move ahead, what are some ways that we could slow down, establish margin, and savor the life we've been given?
Everyday introduces a new idea, new way of doing things, and new challenges. Right brainers tend to thrive these days due to the amount of channels, mediums, and social implications of being a “creative”. For years I pursued a dangling artist carrot. I thought that if I could introduce the most radical “out of the box” idea, or execute the most outlandish creative moment, then I would receive an award or bonus from the Cool Kids Creativity Institute.
Then I joined the staff at a church. Everything began to change.
Everyone puts different levels of value on creativity. I found myself in a marginalized role. I was to be the token Bono on Sundays, bring a good idea to the table here and there, and just expected to do my job. The expectations were different than I had set out to pursue.
It didn’t take me long to sense that God had me right where He wanted me. Doing what I was made to do, and vulnerable to learn more of what I was being compelled to be. With that said, let’s jump laterally.
Once I had someone say “Chad you might want to stop trying so hard, and just be who you were created to be, and not who you think others want you to be.” Those words in addition to how the Spirit was moving and revealing in my life began to alter my head and heart space. It gave me permission to embrace how I was wired to be, and seeking peace and centeredness through prayer and meditation slowly began to recalibrate my motives, hopes, and ambitions.