By Sister Mary Scholastica, O.C.D.

Are we listening? Are we really listening? It’s an important question we need to ask ourselves. In reading this, do you think about yourself, or do you automatically think of “someone else” someone else who needs to “get better at listening”?

It’s interesting, isn’t it? Many of us think of all the “other people”. We’ll say to ourselves, “yes, I need to think about this but if so-and-so would think about this, my life would be different, her life would be different”. First and foremost, we need to focus on ourselves. Doing so shows we know and understand that it is within ourselves where both the problem and solution lie.

Back to the initial question. Are we really listening? This question is multi-layered. Are we aware of and listening to the movements of our own heart? Are we listening to God speaking in the silence of our heart? Are we listening to the people around us, my sisters, in what they are communicating about themselves by what they share and how they share it? Are we listening with the intent of responding and getting our point across or are we listening for the purpose of receiving and questions are asked for greater understanding? Are we hearing the message through pre-conceived filters? Does the topic or the messenger block our hearing? Are we presuming goodness when we hear from someone we struggle with, or critically judging her comments based on assumptions I have made about her person?

All throughout the day, we are communicating. Listening, speaking, reading body language, communicating with our body language, etc. Listening is key to communication. It’s an essential part of every type of communication that takes place. Listening doesn’t always mean using your physical senses. It also means listening with your heart, not just your ears. Frankly, this kind of listening, at the deepest level, is what shifts your listening at the external, superficial level. Simply hearing words is not enough.

More than anything else, your responses to the questions above say a lot about you. The question, “are we really listening” evokes an invitation to ask yourself the underlying questions. “Am I? If I’m not, why not?” Delving more deeply into this particular “why not”, opens the door to a discovery about who you are, what your biases are (good and bad), what is important to you, how you choose to engage or not engage, points out to you the areas where you shut down, where you shut others down, who you are open or not open to, etc.

Am I really listening?

To fully listen to someone equates to letting that person “enter into” your life. You can tell when someone is really listening to you and when they are not. The people who you feel really listen, become people you trust. The people you listen to wholeheartedly are people you let into your lives. There is a mutual reciprocity, a receiving and giving.

The challenge we are given especially as Christians is to LISTEN. To listen to God, the movements of our hearts and to our neighbors. Neighbor means every person that God sends your way throughout the day, which for us, also means your spouse, co-worker, sibling, parent and the list goes on. Jesus did this in an amazing way. He heard every person’s heart even if they themselves did not entirely know what they were saying. And in the deepest desire of their hearts being heard, it led them to healing and wholeness. This is part of the greatness we are called to, and in becoming saints, helping each other also become saints.

This post was first published on and is reprinted here with permission.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

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