tuning in

I read an interesting article yesterday, and the author talked about her experiences with a self-imposed 1 year shopping ban. What really caught my attention though, was her discovery of extra time each morning when she stopped the emails she regularly received from different stores and shopping sites. She went on to explain how she now uses that time to journal, read and pray.

Well, that got me thinking about how I spend my early morning time on my days off from work. Typically, as I’m enjoying my morning coffee there’s a morning news show on in the background. Most of the time I’m not really watching, but that sound is always there and obviously a portion of my brain is tuned in, because I will stop whatever I’m doing to watch a segment if the intro catches my attention.

So yesterday, I intentionally turned off the tv, and instead quietly worked in one of my adult coloring books. (Sorry grandkids, no Avengers or Hello Kitty in these!) I was a bit worried, because I have an ongoing, low level of ringing in my ears and I was afraid the absence of external white noise (the tv) would make my internal white noise too distracting. I’m happy to say that the parts of my brain that were engaged in selecting the colors, deciding where to use them and the physical act of coloring were enough to keep the part of my brain that registers the internal white noise occupied enough that I could ignore it.

And as I lost myself in the picture unfolding under my hand – rather than in some random news story – I relaxed, and was able to open myself to God’s whispers. I found inspiration in the picture, the colors, the colored pencils themselves. I even found inspiration in the sound of the pencils as they forever changed the page in that book.

I realized then, that I too often tune into this world, which means I’m tuning out God. What else have I missed while I was focused on that external white noise? What messages from God have I tuned out? What messages from family and friends? What opportunities to share love and compassion have I ignored, have I tuned out, while I was tuning in to things that really don’t matter? It’s not just the tv, though for me that’s a big culprit. It’s the word games on my phone, the solitaire games on the computer… Who could I have prayed for if I hadn’t played that game of solitaire? Who might I have contacted with a quick message of love and support when I opened my phone if I had tapped on text messages rather than a word game?

I know that God is always calling to me, offering inspiration for ways to share God’s love. I pray that now that I’ve taken this first step, I can stay tuned in to the Good News of God, rather than the world’s news that draws me away from God. And not just for 1 year, but for all the days of my life.

listening

I saw a sign today that said ‘What everyone needs is a good listening to’                       
It took a few minutes to really sink in (it’s been a long week!) but then I realized what a profound concept is contained in this simple statement.

I think we’ve all had the experience of talking to someone who turns and starts to walk away in the middle of your sentence. Or the person that starts talking over you, as if what they have to say is so much more important that what you’re saying. But if I’m honest, then I have admit there have been conversations when I have been the one tuning out, or just waiting for the other person to take a breath so that I can have a chance to share my opinion.

So, if I want to be heard when I speak, then I have to be the one doing the hearing sometimes as well. I have to learn to listen, really listen. I need to take the time to stop what I’m doing, look the other person in the eye, set aside my judgements and opinions, and give them my complete attention. We all deserve that, deserve to know that our words are accepted without judgement, that our feelings and opinions matter.

We don’t have to agree with everything (or even anything) the other person says. And unless the words are truly hurtful or harmful, we don’t need to do anything but be present with and for the other person and allow the words to be spoken.

Imagine how comforting that could be, to be truly heard, to know that our words can find a home with someone else. And if we would want that from others, how can we do anything less for them?

So next time you find your mind wandering, take a moment to think about how a good listening to could make a difference… in both your life and the life of the other person.