Let go to listen fully
Clearing my thoughts and taking in another point of view left no room for anger or ego
Earlier in my life, I thought that I knew my faults better than anyone else and that I could best handle my problems without criticism from others. However, in reality, such thinking was no more than a self-lie and it only hurt my spiritual growth.
After I met the spirituality of the Focolare, there were several events in my life which were big learning experiences for me.
The first event occurred many years ago. I had wanted to attend a two-week school of spiritual formation in Italy. I thought that I had prepared for this trip with the support of my wife and my family. I had bought my ticket and was preparing to leave in a week. But at that moment, my wife suddenly became withdrawn and distant. I thought that she was against my trip and I felt betrayed.
When she wouldn’t talk to me, I was starting to become angry, so I just walked away. But then halfway down the hall I thought: “What am I doing? I am supposed to love the other person and not give in to anger.” So I turned around, came back and sat down beside her, just to listen and be open without saying anything.
Soon she began to express her feelings. As I listened, I became aware that she wasn’t against my trip, but instead was worried whether she could handle the responsibilities of the family while I was away. After giving her my full attention, she felt more assured, and from that moment on, gave her full support for the trip. I might also add she handled many challenges remarkably well while I was away.
So I learned that in difficult situations when I choose to clear my thoughts and try to understand the other person’s point of view, there is no room left for anger. I learned that when I let go of my ideas to listen fully to the other person, this love allows the Holy Spirit to enter into these tense situations, bringing about change and healing.
But even with that strong lesson, I still had a problem. After I listen to criticisms, I often wanted set the record straight. I thought that in fairness to myself, I should be able to give my side of the story. Of course, this was my ego speaking loudly!
So my second lesson about listening with love came when a friend began complaining about something I did, and then added several things that had happened in the past. I was trying to listen, but my mind was also preoccupied about setting the record straight.
At that moment I realized that I had to completely empty my mind of thoughts about the unfairness of the complaints, in order to give my undivided attention and to love by absorbing all of the complaints, no matter if I felt they were fair or not. The thought occurred to me that in the end, if my friend wished to know anything about my side of the story, he could ask me. What really mattered was to listen with complete love. And so I did.
And if you are wondering — when he was finished, my friend didn’t ask for my side of the story, but rather was happy to feel that his complaints had really been heard.
So while I listened fully, putting my ego aside, it became a genuine act of love which invited the Holy Spirit to enter and heal the situation. Now I learned that I can face new difficult situations with even greater humility.
- D. P., Texas
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