This morning I wanted to continue a thought from yesterday’s blog when I asked, “Who’s Listening?”
For anyone who knows anything about Seattle, there is a fictional radio doctor with a Harvard degree who opened his call-in show with the phrase, “I’m Listening”…. He was a mental health profession (Psychiatrist, I think) and had a job solving the woes of people who would call in and talk about their problems in a public arena. Perhaps you know Frasier Crane.
Sometimes Frasier was good at his job… Sometimes not…
I woke this morning thinking about hard sayings we struggle with. You know. “I’m sorry. Forgive me. Please. Thank you.” And Frasier’s opening line to a caller made me realize how hard it is for so many of us to sit back and simply say, “I’m listening.”
Most of us listen and our mind speeds through our potential responses. We are often failures at hearing the entire story, or the real reason the story is being shared. This is true for many of us, we do not listen to understand, we listen to give a response.
A person trained in therapy is not there to give us solutions (I’ve been told), rather, they are there to ask revealing questions that will guide to solutions of our own making. They help us come up with our own solutions.
In fact, a therapist may ask you something like, “Why are you here?” Your response could easily be, “I don’t know, you tell me.”, to which the therapist replies, “Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.”
And that’s a hard pill to swallow.
Most of us want to give solutions, not a guiding hand. Most of us want to solve things the way we see it, and not allow the person to follow their own lead.
Recently, Prince Harry revealed that he is finally getting therapy to help him get over the death of his mom, Princesses Diana. [Source] In one local radio talk show yesterday, while talking about Prince Harry, it was revealed that each of the talking heads (KIRO 97.3) had experienced, previously, or were currently in counseling or therapy (each felt differently about the word usage) and the benefits they perceived from getting to talk to someone who would simply listen.
Who’s listening to you? Your questions? Your confusion?
Since my deeper study has been around the bible and theology, I looked through some writings dealing with the questions, answers and listening styles of various persona’s. One study of the gospels suggest that Jesus was asked 183 questions and only answered 3 of them. He was not the “answer man” we all think of him as. Rather, “he modeled the struggle, the wondering, the thinking it through that helps us draw closer to God and better understand, not just the answer, but ourselves, our process and ultimately why questions are among Jesus’ profound gifts for a life of faith.” [Source]
I would like to think that the way Jesus handled questions are the way we should handle questions. Listen. Guide the conversation so that the person asking has the ability to realize the answer on their own. But too often we feel the question or thought is a personal challenge to our own views and we righteously defend, even to the point of drawing blood and ill feelings.
I know this has been my modus operandi to some who would question.
Why do we do this? Perhaps it’s generations of examples that has taught us how to deal with questions. Or how to give answers. It must take years of training and practice to get good at dealing with the questions that people ask, or handling the problems they are presenting. Maybe that’s why future lawyers join the “debate team” – they have to develop quick wit and response mechanisms so as to not get overwhelmed in the courtroom.
Once again, I look to scripture and bring several areas of personal interest and study dealing with Jesus and the audience. Here are several thoughts about the questions between Jesus and his followers. I wonder who’s listening deep enough to respond appropriately to the question?
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13-15 NKJV)
He asks a general question about his personal identity, and the disciples talk about it for a while. I’m sure it was not a simple answer, there was probably a lot of discussion and comparison of opinions. Then Jesus drills down a little deeper, “Who do you say I am?” Okay. I’ve heard you say what others think, now what do you think? Peter blurts out the proper answer that he suddenly believes in, and is rewarded with a leadership role in the new church.
How about the conversation between Jesus and Peter after the resurrection, and just before the ascension? (John 21:15-19) Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. Three times Peter answers. Three times Jesus gives him a future job to do. Each of the questions are subtly different in the original language. You would need to look at the words for Love, Lambs and Sheep to understand the questions, as well as the answers. Jesus is asking one way, Peter is responding a different way. In fact, Peter never responds appropriately to the question the way Jesus asks.
To close this thought with what I discussed yesterday… If our actions speak louder than our words, then I wonder what your actions are trying to say about your life questions and choices?
I just want those close to me to know, “I’m listening.”