Relationship Prerequisites: Receptivity and Attentiveness
Yesterday, I was in a diner and noticed something that saddened me—something that I see more and more often these days. A man was reading the paper and enjoying some light conversation with the waitresses and the owner. A few minutes later, the man’s wife came into the diner. She exchanged greetings with the staff, and it was obvious they were regulars at the diner. As the wife sat across from her husband, I noticed that he didn’t look up from his paper to greet her, not even a hello or good morning. She kept glancing his way but he never looked up. There was no receptivity or attentiveness on his part. It made me realize that I have also been guilty of overlooking my loved one by focusing on trivial items or tasks.
How many times has this happened to you, as either the ignorer or the ignored? How does it feel? Why do you think we rationalize it and keep doing it? What impact does this behavior have on our relationships? What is the long-term damage of low receptivity or attentiveness?
We love a number of people in life for many reasons, often because we are related to them—by blood, marriage, kids or Christ. But really loving them, whether romantically or platonically, means developing intimacy. Two elements are key to intimacy. The first is willingness to open up and be vulnerable with the other person—sharing our core, our everything. The second is attentiveness and receptivity to what the other person is communicating to us, which encourages that person to open up and share those deeper areas with us.
God desires to bless all with abundant life. Two traits that increase our intimacy with God are receptivity and attentiveness. Receptivity opens up our innermost being so that God fills it with His abundant riches. Attentiveness means directing our gaze toward Him, searching for Him in all our moments and receiving His communication, instruction and provision.
God has done His part. He opened Himself to you through His word and sacrificed His son who died for you. He is always attentive to your thoughts and feelings and provides for all your needs. Now it’s your turn. Will you do your part? Or will you be like the husband in the diner and blame God when life goes wrong?
Today, take time to reflect on an area of your life in which you haven’t been receptive to God’s grace, love, forgiveness or instruction. Why is that? Usually it’s because you are holding onto something too tightly, thinking it will meet your needs, believing something of this world is more important to you than God is. What would you have to give up to let Him in and experience change? How would your life be different if you were attentive to all He has to give to that particular area of your life? Choose to focus on two attributes—receptivity and attentiveness—in your relationships, and especially with God. Whether you are attentive and receptive to others in your life or you choose to be me-focused, self-absorbed and shallow, it’s your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, You are truly a God who gives and gives and gives. When Your Son died on the cross, He held back nothing. He poured out His life like a drink offering. I know that giving is inherent in Your nature, and so I thank You, Father. I pray that You help me increase my receptivity and attentiveness, knowing that these two qualities increase my ability to receive You and have the intimate relationship with You that I desire. Help me get over my fear of vulnerability. Help me to be more receptive. Help me let go of the little shiny pennies I focus on so I can be more attentive to Your unlimited riches. I pray in the name of my most attentive Savior, Jesus Christ. And all God’s children say AMEN!
But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. Philippians 2:17
I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. Mark 10:15
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
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