Talkin' With Your Eyes Open
By: Nick Chrisohon
The other day, I was having dinner with a friend. He was telling me that he was frustrated, because life has a way of adding more work as soon as that perpetual to-do list starts to give some slack.
He said the worst part is, after talking to his family, he felt they were not only disinterested, but less than genuine in their responses to his troubles.
I think that lack of genuine response shows a larger problem. We are quick to talk, to give advice, or just to have something to say. I wanted to title this piece, "shut up, already," but I'm sure someone would be offended; however, the sentiment remains the same.
With the plethora of information available at our fingertips, people have the feeling they can speak to a variety of matters even if one has no direct experience with it at all. I am just as guilty of this vice as anyone, so I've made it a personal goal to listen more than I talk - especially when someone needs an ear more than a thought.
There are few things as frustrating as someone talking when you need to vent. For a variety of reasons, we have lost the ability to listen to each other. How often do I read comment sections on news articles to see strangers textually "shouting" down one another as if any opinion could be swayed in such a public space? Why do we feel a need to inject our own opinions and viewpoints regardless of whether or not they are requested in the first place?
I think it all goes back to the old saying, "thou shalt do [or say] unto others as you would have them do [or say] unto you." I read that in a book somewhere...
I worry that we have lost the ability to connect with one another, and we have become a generation of talking heads rather than a generation of people who genuinely care about others’ needs on a deep level.
For me it means, "when you need to talk, do you really want someone talking over you? or giving you quick advice or 'words of wisdom' before really taking your perspective and emotions into account? or would you rather the other person really hear you out, think your troubles through, and, only if necessary, give a short thought - something to hold onto - and not some grandiose speech?"
Whether you are a pastor-in-training or just a good friend, a listening ear may be the most profound witness you offer to someone today.
Dear friends, I hope you will think about how genuine you are with others. Don't be guilty of talking with only your eyes open.
Discussion Question: When am I most guilty of speaking without considering the impact of my words on others? What can I do to listen better?
See more devotions from Nick, and our other Young Adult writers, or find out how you can become a writer yourself at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.