Am I Really Listening?

When I was a child, I remember my parents calling my name.  Sometimes I ignored them, (sorry Mom and Dad) and other times I chose to just block them out. They would get the occasional, “Huh, I didn’t hear you,” when really, I heard them but decided not to answer. I’m sure my parents would love to tell you more about that subject, but thankfully I’m writing this not them (insert an evil laugh here).

Seriously though, our ears were given to us by God to use as a method of understanding. Yet it seems over the years I have abused my ears. I listened to my Walkman way too loud, I went to concerts without using ear plugs, and I turned the volume of the stereo up as loud as I could in the car. I never thought more about my ears until I was a young adult.

At the time, I worked for the military and conducted hearing tests on young applicants who hoped to join the military. One time I was asked to sit in the hearing booth so the operator could make sure the equipment was working. I obliged and sat through an entire hearing test. When I exited the booth, my co-worker showed me the test results. I had slight hearing loss in my left ear! Imagine how shocked I was! Many of us in our twenties thought we were invincible.

Time passed on and I noticed that when in a group of people, I tended to read the lips of the person speaking. I could hear them, but not as good as I should have. Then once while in Bible Study with the youth at our church, I asked what page in the Bible we were on. Several of the youth said what page but I didn’t hear them. After sensing some frustration, I asked what the deal was. They ever so kindly explained to me that they had told me the page number many times, but I didn’t hear.

I decided it was time to get my ears checked out. After doing another hearing exam, I was told that I now had a significant amount of hearing loss in my left ear. It was time for hearing aids. I purchased two and was on my way. I wore them for a year or two without anyone noticing. I shared my hearing loss with our youth and several others.

Then last year, I heard that a man from California who has a spiritual gift of healing was going to be visiting the Omaha area. Many people are unfamiliar with healing. Some things that happen in healing services can be scary for those who have never seen the Holy Spirit work. Eventually, this man asked some leaders to come up to the front of the room for prayer. He said that there was someone in the room who had ear problems. “Not me,” I thought. “He’s not talking to me.”  When no one responded, he repeated that someone has hearing loss. This time I thought “No way!” and then I heard someone else say, “Her name is Carey.” I opened my eyes, looked at this man and said, “Are you kidding me?!” No, he wasn’t kidding at all; in fact, he told me that God had healed my hearing. He tested me as he spoke to me, hiding his lips behind a piece of paper. I couldn’t read his lips and could hear him loudly! Since that day, I have not needed my hearing aids.

Why am I sharing this story with you? Because this weekend, while my husband shared a touching story from the newspaper, I tuned him out and didn’t listen. Hours later someone told me the same story and when I told my husband, he replied, “I just told you that, you weren’t listening to me.” Oh my, he was so right. How many times have I shut people out when they are talking to me because I am focusing on something else? When my children are telling me a story, am I giving them my attention?  God gave me the gift of hearing again, how dare I deny listening to those who love me.

Sometimes we don’t like what we hear. Today, my heart was aching as I listened to someone tell me some painful, yet true things about myself. I listened 100% without tuning them out. Yes, it made me uncomfortable to hear those things, but I’m praying that God will help me to change and that He will bring about forgiveness.

Heavenly Father, how many times have I shut You out and not listened to You, either? I am so sorry to those whom I have ignored in the past and I pray for forgiveness from my family and friends who I have hurt by not giving them my undivided, one-on-one attention. Amen.

Where ever you are, I am listening to you.

Carey Oswald

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4 thoughts on “Am I Really Listening?

  1. The testimonies keep comin’! Love that you are able to share your experiences and what you’ve learned (and are still learning) with all of us. I go through periods where I need to remind myself to be an active listener…eye contact, receptive posturing, etc. Sometimes my intention is to listen well, but my countenance is not demonstrating my receptiveness.

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