I have come to a realization: Listening is one of the hardest things to do in this world. We speak, and we presume that we communicate, but we all speak different languages, even though, here, we call it all English. There is a language barrier between each of us. It is not because we didn’t grow reading the same books and watching the same news, but more because we grew up in each of our different situations.
One person may very well be in the same room as another, and hearing the same words, but there is always a time when the words get lost in translation. It is inevitable.
Presumptions, assumptions, leaps to conclusions, impatience to get our own chance to make ourselves heard, all of these things keep us from listening, from truly hearing and understanding what those around us are saying.
It makes ministry a little difficult. Since everyone is hearing things through their own lenses, different words can have different weights and different meanings. One person can be saying one thing, and the person next to them could be hearing something else entirely different.
How is the Gospel shared then? It takes very careful thought to share words that will lead to the understanding of the grace that is being offered through Christ. People may hear the words, but the words that are being spoken with the vastest of grace may be interpreted with little or none.
We hear many things spoken, but we do not always understand what lies behind the words. What hurts and scars and pains are behind the words that are being thrown to injure? What is the history behind the relationship that is being forced onto a new circumstance? What are the words, and then what are the deeper meanings behind the words?
These are questions that need to be asked to be able to interpret words that are spoken.
And then, out of all the scars and memories and fears, how do we then respond with a word of grace? How do we share the life-giving Gospel of love and compassion?
Perhaps it will not be your word that makes that change, not immediately, but perhaps your word will be the word that opens up a new opportunity for someone else to share the Good news of grace and freedom in Christ.
For now, I will listen, and I will interpret through a lens of grace. I can do this only through the power of God, who has offered and shared grace with me.