Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Listen Up, Y'all!

If we are going to be in community with one another, whatever form that takes, we have to learn to listen to one another.


If we are going to grow, to take deeply honest looks at our faults, to repent and turn in a healthy direction, we have to be willing to hear one another.

If I ever hope to become a wise elder, I have to first be wise enough to slow down, to listen, to hear, to process… these things precede all understanding.

Questions are healthy. Not having the answers is ok. Exploring the mystery together is growth. Listening together to how the spirit is moving, challenging, illuminating – this is an essential practice of the body of Christ.

When we fail to listen to those who feel their voices are being silenced, we dismiss their experience and receive their challenge as a something negative to be sneered at, rather than something valid and valuable from which we can grow.

This is a common response to those of us who speak from the margins of evangelical Christianity about issues around gender, race, and sexuality, and it’s an effective one because it appeals to something most of us value deeply: Christian unity… far too often, the “stop-being-so-divisive” line is used by those in power to diffuse, or even silence, difficult conversations about why things might need to change… I don’t like being divisive. Believe me. But I don’t like being silenced either.”
~ Rachel Held Evans, “On Being ‘Divisive’…”

When we fail to listen to those who feel their voices are being silenced, we miss out on the beauty, honesty and healing that can come when we release our tight grip of control, and step out into the risky unknown of growth and change.

"To me, the marginalized are those who, for all kinds of different reasons, are on the border or edge of whatever groups or systems they are part of. They are not in the center where the power and resources flow, but instead are in the white blank space that lingers on each side of the center… So much beauty emerges from the margins, and I get to see it almost every day. Truth so pure that it is like gold. Beauty so glorious that it can’t be matched. Honesty so raw that it pierces souls. Healing so deep that it transforms the most hardened heart.”
~ Kathy Escobar, “Truth from the Margins”

Adam McHugh, who has an upcoming book on listening, recently tweeted, “We are, in large part, a result of the voices we choose to listen to. Pick good and diverse voices.” And also, “If the people with power in your community do not practice listening, odds are no one else will either.”

Who am I choosing to listen to?

How am I practicing listening?

Am I willing to learn from the voices that are speaking into my life?