I'm not naturally a good listener, but I try to try hard, because I
value it as an important way to serve others. And even though I often
don't try, and even when I do I'm still not a great listener, believe
it or not I was once even worse.

I recall several years ago a dear friend of mine who had just gone
through a wilderness season and who was confiding his struggles with
me. I had just read a great Christian book and everything he shared,
what I had just read was the perfect "answer" for him. If he confided
doubt, I had wise words about having faith. When he vented anger, I
warned him about harboring bitterness. Wherever he turned, I had a
quote or a verse.

It occurred to me much, much later that my friend already knew
everything I had regurgitated to him from this book I'd just read. He
didn't need my "answers," he needed my ears and heart. He needed my
ears to be open so he could pour out his sadness and dismay. And he
needed my heart to be open so he would know I was willing to feel his
pain. And I gave him neither my ears nor my heart.

So when I am trying to listen better now, sometimes it is because I am
trying to make up for a dear friend who gave me an opportunity to
listen to him, an opportunity I butchered. Thankfully, there are more
times to do better.

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