My type of book club? The kind where you meet once a month and discuss a few chapters of the book versus the entire thing! It allows me to be in a group with like-minded people and show up having my chapters read instead of pretending that I read the book when really what I needed was a few more weeks. My MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group has been reading The Resolution for Women by Priscilla Shirer this year.
This last chapter we discussed was so good that I wanted to share a few excerpts from it. It was called “The Gift.”
The author starts by sharing that she went to a conference and shares with us what the speaker said. I am sharing quite a bit below from Priscilla, it’s awesome.
Right before taking his seat after an hour-long presentation, he lowered his voice, looked squarely into the eyes of his audience, and said, “I’m aware that the greatest gift you can ever give someone is the gift of your own time. Thank you for giving me that gift today.” Time. Listening. A gift.
I’ve never forgotten that. In fact, I keep this awareness at the forefront of my mind each time I stand on a platform in front of a listening audience. When people give you their ear, they are offering you a sliver of their life they can never retrieve again-one of the few gifts that can never be returned or retracted.
But this dynamic is not only true of an audience listening to a speaker. It’s true of any person who lends her ear to another individual. And we are in that position every day–the opportunity to envelop ourselves in someone else’s conversation, to suppress the clamor of our own thoughts and schedule, to focus our full attention on other people, giving them an offering of the rarest kind. The gift of ourselves. The gift of our time.
The gift of listening.
Think of it. When was the last time somebody really listened to you? Not the last time you talked but the last time you felt you were really heard. It’s highly probable that these two occasions were not one and the same. You may not even be able to easily recall a recent moment when you experienced that special sense of knowing that someone was all there, all yours, intent on hearing what you had to say. But once you transport yourself back to that time, seeing the attentive eyes of that other person, you’ll be looking into the face of someone you deeply appreciate, someone who truly knows how to make a person feel valued and accepted, loved and affirmed.
That’s just what the gift of listening does. What starts with one gift spins off into other–the gifts of self-worth, significance, personal satisfaction. The kind of gifts we all want to be known for giving.
But oh, how uncommon they are. How rarely we receive them, much less give them. Most of the time we’re so focused on ourselves and preoccupied with our own feelings, every conversation becomes ultimately about us and how we’re being affected. We’re parsing what the other person is saying, interpreting as we go, trying to fix whatever problem she’s presenting , jumping in at every possible opening with our own attempts to turn the attention back to us, our experiences, and our opinions.
Truly, what we say by not listening says a lot.
So choose to listen. Resist the urge to criticize, laugh, or make sarcastic remarks. Battle the press of time and urgency and the hunger to get away. Just lean in, quietly, emphatically, purposefully.
It’s your gift. Your blessing.
Give it to whomever you can. ”
I talk to the same friends several times a week. I want to work on spending more time listening rather than offering up advice. And when I am not sure if they want advice, I am just going to ask them! I am so thankfuyful for having my friends to listen to me and to be able to offer my time to them.
I must say, there is someone I am super lucky to have who listens wholeheartedly. This person is very intent on hearing what I have to say. Lucky to have my husband Dave.