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As we have moved forward in this class, I am struck by one overarching theme, listening is the foundation to understanding. As I reflect on my posts, journal entries, and thoughts throughout this course (so far) I am awestruck by the fact that I struggle to listen! I have always considered myself a compassionate, patient listener who can empathize with broken people. I thought that my skills were weaker at home but still strong nonetheless. However, it has been sobering to recognize that I do not typically listen to hear but rather to respond. I find that I am contemplating an answer even before the person has completed his/her thoughts. I have lamented in several posts that I struggle to always listen to my husband, who doesn’t, right? However, beginning on Saturday, of this past week I began an introspective test of my listening skills. I asked several friends to cover “review” questions with me concerning the content of our conversations . My results were awful. Four out of six times I could not relay pertinent information when shared during casual conversation. I did much better when the information was more personal or sensitive, in fact, five out of six times I could repeat critical information when shared as a need. So my question is “Do I typically listen better when I perceive the need is great?” or “Am I so familiar with my friends and family that I do not feel the need to engage in conversational rhetoric?” Whatever the reason, the time is now to hone these skills and begin to build bridges instead of walls. Our text reminds us that “listening enables you to interpret (select, organize, and make inferences about) what your conversation partners are saying and doing” (Stewart, 2012, p.176). I think that truly listening to someone involves becomes less selfish and seeking to really stop and take time to absorb the words, emotions, inflections, and body language. As I become more purposeful I know I will gain new perspective.

Listening, really listening, is vital to serve as a counselor but I think it is even more so for one’s Christian walk. The Bible is full of inferences to listening but my favorite during this class has become 2 Kings 17:24 ” However, they did not listen, but stiffened their neck like their father, who did not believe in the LORD their God.” (2 Kings 17:24, NASB). While this is out of context, it has served as my reminder that an ear that does not will itself to hear misses the glory and provision of the LORD. If I won’t stop long enough to listen to my husband, friends, and family during casual conversation how can I know that I will hear the voice of God when He speaks? Will I miss His gentle voice because I am plotting my response?I do not want to miss any nuance that will draw me closer to God. As we move forward I am determined to be an intentional listener however, it is hard! I have gained so much perspective about who I am in relation to who I say I am.

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