Being a Ready Listener
[There is] a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. Ecclesiastes 3:7
I (Teresa) used to fear hearing about David's thoughts and plans. I feared that because I knew there were so many of them and because I knew they'd affect my life in some way. David has more ideas and plans than most people could have in ten lifetimes. When he talked to me about an idea or dream of his, I'd often sit there thinking up all the reasons why he couldn't or shouldn't do what he was talking about.
Several years ago, David and I saw a marriage and ministry nearly destroyed when a wife, out of her own fear, failed to be a source of comfort to her husband. The husband, a pastor, had returned home from a troubling elders' meeting where words of rejection had been spoken and where friends he had poured his life out for had betrayed him. In deep sorrow, he began to share his hurt with his wife. He needed comfort, but out of her own fear she spoke these words: "Whatever you do, don't quit." This man's wife gave him no comfort, but worse than that, her fearful words caused him to withdraw from her. Sin awaited him, seeking to devour him (Genesis 4:7), and the husband soon found himself in the arms of another church member. His choices were sinful and painfully wrong, but so were his wife's fearful and self-focused words.
One day David told me he felt that I was treating his thoughts and dreams as if I were skeet shooting. He'd throw out a thought, but out of my fear I'd shoot it down. Now, I want to hear David's dreams and ideas. I want him to continue to feel safe sharing his thoughts with me, but I know this can only happen when I honor him by being a good listener.
What steps can you take now to make yourself a better listener?
God, help me honor my spouse by listening with my heart and not my fear.