Can You Listen Enough?

I am a man and I can admit that I have been told that I never listen. This is not meant to be sexist, I have been told by my buddies as well that I should have listened to them a way long time ago. I am man isn’t sexist either merely because I cannot relate to whether a woman actually hears what I am saying. But it isn’t about being a man or a woman, it is about listening. Can you the reader honestly say you are listening? Sure, you pay attention, you hear people out, you actively listen to those conversations that may or may not cause you to lose track within the details, but … are you hearing what is trying to be said.

Now that I have you confused and on the verge of switching to another complicated blog, I have been enlightened by a few soul-searching missionaries and what they actually did wasn’t to force me to hear by thrusting their palms into my forehead chanting some words way too loud. What they did was open my mind to what I was already questioning deep inside. They empowered me enough to slow down the chaos in my soul just enough to hear the messages I was supposed to be told. These messages are every where, they are in sermons, personal testimonies, songs on the radio, words in books and blogs. These messages are mixed with other words but when the phrase or direction is for you it stands out and hits close to home.

I am not a preacher, although it may sound like I am at time, and maybe being that this is not a prepared sermon it may just help you listen. Maybe because these words are coming to my head shortly before I type them you will sense the honesty in them. Maybe you will think I am full of crap and need serious therapy, which if fine but finish reading this before you call for a fancy white jacket with lots of belt buckles and really long sleeves.

I went to church this morning and a member was speaking about how Paul was beaten by the Jews whom falsely accused him of bring a Gentile into the temple and in their minds such an action would have defiled the temple.  Again, not a sermon, but I was listening and found this odd that the Jews would do such acts to an apostle, but I am not versed enough in the Bible to admit I understand. The key is this, I left that church and the radio in my truck was on an AM station which had a Sunday service on that also was talking about that same occurrence, makes me sound like a “holy roller” doesn’t it, well I assure you I am not that worthy yet. What puts all of this into highlight is that this afternoon while scanning through the radio stations it stopped on a station where a lady was also preaching about this very biblical story. There has to be a message here, I don’t know for sure what it is but someone is trying to tell me something.

I have noticed several moments where I have had a question lingering deep within me and it has been answered in the strangest ways; from someone just showing up out of the blue to the arrangement of songs being shuffled in the playlist on my phone. What I come to realize is that these are not new ways of communicating to me, these are messages that I have been ignoring because some of these questions have been lingering for quite some time and I failed to see what was being conveyed. Maybe because I was choosing to see the wrong messages that were trying to hold me back, trick me, and were full of hurt and lies.

That right, there are more than one force working out there and if you failed to relate to that then you are well sheltered and may only see the good in this world. I on the other hand have quite a bit of dirt underneath my nails and now I know there are messages from both sides trying to tear me apart. The best part is when I lean more in one direction the other pulls harder, which isn’t so bad with the good but when the bad starts to tug he cheats!. I am no perfect angel and as such I am not strong enough yet to fend off all the evils of the world. This leaves me vulnerable to becoming misled and being a man who was taught that men are to be strong, this is very difficult to admit, plus the frustration of being toyed with only opens more doors for the little demons to peer in.

The other night I was at my favorite pub eating my weekly burger and whatnot. This righteous stuff has been on my mind so much lately that even at this bar I was thinking about my direction. Yeah so easy for those of you who were born into the church, I cannot just walk out, the damn burger is too good. When I left a few hours later it was still early and something kept bringing up another pub in the area I had driven by a couple of weeks ago but one I have never stepped foot into. My inner voice said to me that this would be a good time to see how that joint was, I would just stop in for a drink and check it out, it was still early.

So the battle begins, I am driving down the interstate headed for the highway that takes me back to my temporary home when this discussion inside starts to evolve. I unconsciously drove right past the exit that would lead me to the other bar and the next one was the way home. Off the interstate onto the highway I pick up speed and close in on to a truck driven by someone’s grandpa. As I take my truck and gas it pass the truck I noticed a highway patrol car a few car lengths in front of the truck. My radar detector never when off but I was doing 70 in a 55 and there is no way that officer didn’t see my big red truck racing toward him. I pull in front of the truck and as I did there came exit into the city, so what the hell I took it because it was better than being behind the highway patrol. Plus grandpa trucker thought it would be funny to close the distance between all of us so this seemed like the best option.

In the city streets I figured I would now just go to that other bar and get it over with, obviously something was telling me to get off that highway and the street I was on would take me right in front of the bar. So I thought … I ended up getting in the wrong lane that only turned right which led to a one way street that headed west which put me on another interstate which took me right back to the damn highway I was on to go home, just 30 minutes later. Frustrated I just went home and stopped listening to everything. What I didn’t realize until today was that the highway patrol car being there wasn’t telling me to get off it was a sign to smarten up. All the other tricks were just misleading me and the powers that be took me right back where I was supposed to me in the first place.

These forces are everywhere around us and it is up to us to listen and know who and what to listen to. The missionaries told me something about having faith and needing to grow it to bear the fruits of it. I had faith but because it never produced much I just left it as it was and thought that was good enough. What I needed to do was to strengthen my faith so that it would be less likely that I would be misled and strong enough to see all the messages out there waiting for me, good or bad. I still don’t know why I have heard three different people speak about the same biblical story, certainly they are not in cahoots with each other because they all come from different denominations. I will keep an open mind and maybe I will listen enough or learn to listen more.

These poor missionaries, I have gone to their church and resist becoming a part of their church, in fact I leave after the first hour because I can’t force myself to stay longer, and they keep coming back sharing with me and teaching me how to listen better. I don’t think their calling is from the church alone. They will finish their term feeling like they tried really hard to convert me when in reality they probably just saved my soul.