I started reading this book recently: The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction by Adam S. McHugh. It was a recommendation in Simply Tuesdays by Emily P. Freeman.
Simply Tuesdays was a good book. It didn’t hand me an overwhelming amount of new information. I knew most of what she told me. However, it was a book that caused me to re-evaluate areas of my life and it took me months to finish it. She referenced the listening book multiple times and there was something in me that said, “YOU NEED THAT.” Maybe it was the Holy Spirit.
So I bought it. But, like the true rebel I am, I didn’t read it. It just sat on my kindle for a while. Chilling. Waiting for me to get around to it.
Today, I started reading it while I was waiting at the bank. I always bring a book to the bank because transferring money takes a few hours (not joking). And as I sat in the lobby, I felt my soul take a breath and thought, “This is what I’ve needed for a while. This book.”
This doesn’t happen to me often. I don’t often feel such an intense emotional need for a book besides the Bible and like, Jane Austen. So I’ve been reading it throughout my day, in-between classes, during meals. And I’ve wanted to cry multiple times and I’m only in chapter one.
The main quote that has gotten me is about why we fail to listen. One of the reasons he lists is loneliness.
We’re lonely. Mother Teresa called loneliness the leprosy of the Western world, maybe even more devastating than Calcutta poverty. Loneliness drives to talk about ourselves to excess and to turn conversations toward ourselves. It makes us grasp on to others, thinking their role is to meet our needs, and it shrinks the space we have in our souls for welcoming others in. That loneliness would keep us from listening, and others from listening to us, is a tragedy, because being listened to is one of the great assurances in this universe that we are not alone.
To be an unprofessional writer: Like, wow.
I can’t stop thinking about this idea. Loneliness is driving me to obsess about myself. To be needy and demand that others listen and it is preventing true fellowship. How do I rid myself of this disease? By listening. Listening to God, listening to others. By stopping, creating intentional space to breathe and just listen.
I’ll leave you with this:
Our longings for intimacy will not be satisfied through one-way conversations and interactions that feel like competitions. Our desire to be transformed will not be met through giving voice to all the noise in our souls. Our identities will not be discovered in finding our own voice independent of others, but in helping others find their voices.
That’s my job as a writer. To help others find their voice. It requires me to stop talking and listen. James knew what he was talking about: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” (James 1:19, NIV). It’s becoming a theme in my life. I like it.
Now, go read this book, because it’s really good. Right now. Go. Stop reading this and get it already! Now!