Let anyone with ears listen! (Matthew 13:9)
You have probably not noticed this, but my ears are larger than most. And they stick out from my head a little more than others. At least that is what I was told when I was a kid. Other kids would tell me that over and over out on the playground, or in class, or anytime I did better on a test than they did. It was nice of them to let me know.
Perhaps it is my ears that made others think I was a good listener. Even in high school, it seemed like whenever anyone had a problem, I heard about it. Relationship problems. Parental problems. School problems. Life problems. Go talk to Wayne. He's a good listener.
Except that I really wasn't. I can't tell you how many times mom or dad would say, "Wayne, are you listening to me?" I learned quickly that no was not the right answer.
What I came to realize was that my ability to listen was selective. I would listen to classmates’ problems because it made me feel popular. I wouldn't listen to my parents because I was a teenager. I would listen to teachers because it helped me get good grades. I wouldn't listen to teachers who tried to help me become a better person because it meant I had to change.
The truth is that listening - really listening - is hard. Really listening means listening to things we don't want to hear, like our doctor telling us to eat better or lose a few pounds. It means listening to those with a viewpoint or opinion that is different than ours rather than drowning out their voices, either inside our head or out. Really listening means being open to the possibility that what we hear may change us in some way. That is hard to do.
Really listening to Jesus may be hardest of all. Love your neighbor, and your enemy. Turn the other cheek. Forgive as often as God has forgiven you. When we listen to these words - REALLY LISTEN - it changes us. What's more, these words have the power to change our world.
I finally came to accept my ears. Maybe they do make me a good listener. But even for those of you who are auricle-challenged, Jesus says, "let anyone with ears listen!"