NASHVILLE, TN – What makes you happy? Not a trick question: many cannot easily answer that! One of America’s sweethearts has this to say about it, “Optimism is a happiness magnet.” Does Mary Lou Retton have it about right? If that’s the case though then it begs the question… what creates “Optimism?” This is where you may disagree! It is the conviction of this author that one thing stands out as the perfect champion of being an “Optimism Builder“ and the winner is -Being truly listened to.
People who are actually heard feel valued. People who are valued feel appreciated. People who are appreciated feel hopeful and people who are hopeful simply feel optimistic! It’s not rocket science. So, see if something in these next few paragraphs can make you a champion listener. Challenge yourself to learn to engage others at the highest level—just maybe you will then create a world of happiness for someone.
“When we listen, we hear someone into existence,” Laurie Buchanan. That is only the genesis of the awesome power one has—just by being silent and listening. Laurie also noted, “One of the benchmarks of great communicators is their ability to listen not just to what’s being said but to listen to what’s not being said as well….they listen between the lines.” Truly, there is great influence in effective listening.
Does God know that? Of course, He does. The Psalmist actually penned these words—“I love the Lord because He hears my voice.” Did you ever really realize this axiom? Why does our Lord repeatedly have to remind us—“listen then if you have ears.” Here’s a thought: “It’s hard to engage in listening with empathy to another person if you are waiting for the spotlight to shine back on you.” So says psychologist, Ramani Durvasula.
If you would desire to increase this coming year—you may need to decrease first! Become the person others long to communicate to. Agatha Christie quipped, “An appreciative listener is always stimulating.” By the way—Jesus is always listening, not to catch you in something bad but because He loves you so good. But the fact that the Sovereign of the Cosmos is listening should in fact—stimulate you to greater optimism!
Could it be that God does value you? Bryant H. McGill said,” One of the sincerest forms of respect is actually listening to what others have to say.” Your perfect Heavenly Father does value you, respect you, and always listen to you! It has nothing to do with you being “Naughty or Nice.”
Lastly, Henri Nouwen gave us this, “Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure.”
Are you possibly disturbed when God seems silent and distant? Ahh dear friend, just stop and listen—listen—shhhh—listen. That is simply His way of drawing you near!! That is worth sticking to!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. David L. Thompson holds an undergraduate degree from Belmont University in Psychology and Religion, a graduate degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Education, and a doctorate in Counseling and Pastoral Psychology. He has served as a chairman of the Church Planting Group and Executive Committee Chair at the North American Mission Board for 10 years. He has been a Police Chaplain since 1991 and served as a Corporate Chaplain to the Coca Cola Bottling Company in Nashville, Tennessee where he resides with his wife. He has six children and five grandsons.