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Loving by Listening

Loving by Listening

How Quiet Time Teaches us to Listen
Vanessa Bonilla

When I was a teenager, I sat with a therapist after a traumatic event in my life. He asked me to draw a family portrait. Upon completion he noticed something, I drew every detail except… ears. He asked if I felt like I was being heard. As the baby of six children, the odds of being heard were slim. As I grew older and my siblings moved away, my relationship with my parents changed and I was heard. I felt a deeper bond with them; I felt more deeply loved. 

In approaching Quiet Time we don’t have to wonder. We don’t have to fight off the other 8 billion voices on the planet to be heard by the Most High. Jeremiah 29:12 tells us “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”
The God that created the universe, who spoke the world into existence, and breathed life into man is the same God who listens intently to the cries of our hearts. We are but dust and yet His love for us doesn’t treat us as so. We then have confidence when we approach God “that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14b NIV)
When we know we are heard, our bond with God will grow and we will feel more deeply loved. We serve a God who hears and in turn wants to be heard. Patience is required for waiting on the voice of the Lord. Quiet Time doesn’t just help us feel loved by knowing we are heard it also trains us to love God by patiently listening to Him. 

If we are looking for deeper, more meaningful relationships we need ears that hear! The fastest way to learn to love someone else is to learn to listen to them. James 1:19 (NIV) says “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” 

I have learned after ten years of marriage and nearly twenty years of parenting that the more patient I become in listening to God the more patient I become in hearing those around me. I can become a vessel used by God to make my family feel heard! Conversations with three-year-olds can be funny or very draining but as we listen, we are teaching our toddlers that Mommy hears, and God hears too. Speaking to our spouses can feel like we’re listening to a Ted talk and it’s so easy for us to want to check out or add our own (truly amazing) insights but patience in active listening trains our hearts in humility and lets our spouses know that what they have to say is important to us.     

If you are interested in developing a love of listening, schedule a time once a week with each person in your life and prepare questions to help you get to know them better. Put away your phone! Give people a chance to explain their thoughts in full detail by not interrupting. Don’t judge or jump to conclusions, instead bring all you heard to prayer, allowing your heart to process the information with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Then choose insightful follow-up questions in areas you may find concerning and wait for God to prepare the right moment for your prayer-filled response.

Practice listening to God by leaving room for quiet in your daily quiet time. Leave space in your time where you aren’t listening to music or praying or reading, just quietly and actively listening for God to speak to your heart. Let’s spend time training our mouths to be slow and our ears to be quick. Let’s love God and those around us with our ears!

  Vanessa Bonilla lives with her husband, Eli, in Brooklyn, NY where she homeschools their five children. Vanessa is also the Children’s Director at her church, and she loves fire pits, friends, and spending time with her family.

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