Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Learning for Life (08/23/04)
TITLE: Of Bears, Whine and Hearing Aids
By Glenn A. Hascall
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You can threaten them with extra work around the house, loss of certain privileges or the cruel and unusual punishment of more leafy vegetables in their diet and yet you may still their polite condescending voice say, "I'm sorry, did you say something?" or, "You are getting older dad, maybe you just thought you had spoken actual words."
My very own children have revealed to me, that selective hearing is a two-way street. There have been times (recently, I might add) when my wife will say, "Honey, why don't you answer her?" This comment seems funny because I'm not at all certain who the 'her' is, nor do I have a clue how to answer a question that was never verbalized.
It is then that I am confronted with truth. It seems my daughter has been asking a simple question several times and her voice has altered in pitch until it borders precariously between screaming cat and fingernails on chalkboard. The reason for this discordant change in tone is due to the fact that I have not responded to her repeated question.
If I should happen to pick up on the fact that my daughter is saying something to me and I actually detect that particular voice that makes the hair stick up on the back of my elbow, I might well respond with something like, "What? What? What? What do you want? Why must you whine? Why? Why? Why?" By this time my wife is holding her sides with tears streaming from her ducts as a direct result of my response. My daughter is holding her ears because whining never sounds good to someone whose not actually committing the sin of whining (no I don't have a verse to back up this assertion).
Then it hits me. I stand before my daughter declared guilty of the very crime I have warned her repeatedly not to commit. This same scenario occurs at work when an employee asks me questions at a moment when I am totally engrossed in a project and I have to admit I didn't catch most of what they were asking.
I'd love to fault telemarketers for making it possible for us to so easily tune people out, but I can't (did I mention that I’d love to?). It's human nature to selfishly hold onto our own interests so tightly that we fail to allow other voices to reach us. If we keep them at bay long enough, they'll stop talking to us and they may well conclude that we don't really listen anyway, so why bother. I'm afraid this is happening far too often in our world.
My daughter has heard her daddy say, "I was wrong, can you forgive me?" when I find that I have yet again switched my ears to selective hearing mode. God's Word tells us to, "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Col. 3:13).
This is an important verse to remember because before we ever failed to listen to each other, we failed to listen to God. We see others who have messed up and we seem willing to look at their lives through a prism that demonstrates all the various shade and hue of sins that pervade their life. But when we mess up, we want nothing less than forgiveness. God has indeed forgiven us but He asks us to put up with each other's idiosyncratic (fancy word for peculiar) tendencies. Maybe we just weren't listening to that part.
I have to bear with children who I sometimes believe need hearing aids and they have to put up with a dad who probably does need hearing aids. And I'll use them too, just as soon as I figure out how to connect them to my heart. That's where the best listening takes place.