Last year it was faith… the word that I chose to reflect upon throughout the year. When I mentioned the word faith to a friend, she stated, “Ah ~ Faith… the opposite of fear”. I love it when someone can state something so clear and simple, yet so powerful at the same time. In fact, I wrote down Trish’s definition of faith, and it is kept on my desk, where I see it daily.
Faith is something that has usually been fairly easy for me, not always, but usually. Being raised by women and men of strong faith probably has had something to do with how I feel about it, but my faith also has to do with what I know. I know that as much as I would like to say that I have complete control over my life and its destiny, I do not. I can plan with the best of them, but then a few unforeseen monkey wrenches get thrown into the mix, and my so-called plan is in shambles. The faith part leaves me wondering if my plan was just a stepping-stone to the real plan ~ His plan. Faith has allowed me to believe in my journey, as it’s my life’s path, knowing that He is guiding me through it.
Now some days, that journey is as pleasant as a hike up a beautiful mountain; it leaves me reflecting on all the beauty that surrounds me. Other days, the journey may leave me shaking my head, Linda Blair style… a full 360, if it was humanly possible. Those are the days when the faith is tested, and I remember the words that Mom use to repeat often, this too, shall pass ~ There is a strong comfort in those words, as they bring awareness that many troubles are just road bumps in life, a small sliver of the overall journey. Just what is it that can be learned from the troubles? There is always a lesson to be learned, about a situation or yourself; it just takes the ability to listen. Ram Dass said it best when he stated, “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”
This world that we live in is a crazy, fast-paced, hectic, out-of-control, roller-coaster ride on any given day. Just turn on the news, any news, and that should give anyone reason to wonder, what the hell? I guess that word faith is being put to the test ~ Big Time! But when you listen, and hear the lack of common sense in some of what is being reported, it should cause us all to pause and question ~ why? What is the lesson that we are meant to learn from all of this madness?
Are people not listening to one another? We can’t communicate with each other, if we’re unwilling to listen; talking is only half of the process of communication. How many tragedies could be avoided if we all listened with 100% attention? I’m not saying that we can solve all of the world’s problems, but we can learn to listen more effectively, as well as to speak more assertively. Who knows, logic might even be heard, if we let go of our own agenda long enough to focus on another’s words and concerns.
You know when listening is not taking place… that moment in the conversation when the speaker is speaking and the listener is saying, “U-huh, u-huh, m-huh, m-huh”. That’s the moment when I know that my words are coming across as, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah”. It’s also the moment when I want to break out in song. Something. Anything, to break the U-huhs! Just the other day, I had one such conversation, where I was the u-huher, and my daughter was the blah-blaher. She has more decorum than I, when it comes to being put off.
While wrapping the last of the Christmas gifts, my daughter approached me to tell me about her day. The gift, right there, is that she still loves to tell me, and she’s a teenager! Keeping in mind that I was wrapping presents, and not learning surgical skills, I should have listened to her with 99.8% percent of my attention (.2 percent focusing on the scissors). Seriously, I have wrapped presents for the better part of my life; I could do it blindfolded, and do it well!
As she proceeded with the details of her day, I started the u-huh, u-huh, u-huh – quick nodding of my head, the annoyance of being interrupted. For crying-out-loud, wrapping-interruptous… doesn’t she know that I don’t have elves? She quietly walked away in the middle of an u-huh, and I quickly thought, good for her, I would have, too! What rotten behavior on my part; it left me remembering my parents, and how they attentively listened to me.
It was a different time, a simpler time. There was no Internet, texting, e-mailing, you know… keeping up with EVERYTHING at the press of a button. People kept up with the important things, by sitting down and listening. Talking in the car, talking on the golf course, talking over coffee, it was eye to eye, and there seemed to be more of it. Talking AND listening. Sometimes it’s what’s not said, that you hear the most; it’s all in an expression.
This past December, while partaking in the annual Christmas cookie bake-off, I was pleasantly reminded of my father’s ability to listen ~ he still has it. While my job is to man the oven ~ dough in, cookies out, my daughters and my father mix, decorate, and discuss. While listening to their conversations about each other’s lives, in general, I’m reminded of the gift of listening; the importance of validating someone’s thoughts and feelings, by eye contact, a touch, or simply rephrasing what was said. They all three do it well~
This year it is listen… the word that I choose to reflect upon throughout the year.
Not only will I attempt to be a more attentive listener to others, I first must have the faith to listen to myself ~
I did not purposefully choose a word to reflect upon this year, until I was reading a post over at A Deeper Story, which led to One Word 365, which led to Melanie at Only A Breath. If you are so inclined, please check them out, and contemplate what would your word be for 2013?
It wasn’t easy to come up with just one word, but when looking back on 2012, I felt that “listen”, or lack of it, needed to be focused on. Sit back, think about it for awhile, and choose a word…
Share your word in the comments section; I’d love to know what word matters to you ~
Post header - D.L. Rives, Listen image - Melanie of Only A Breath