Invitation To The Listening Life

Have you ever held a large conch shell to your ear and listened? Closing your eyes, you can imagine the sound of the ocean waves rushing against the shore.

Science says it’s actually the noise around us leaking into the shell and resonating, but I still like to imagine it is God miraculously sending the sound of the ocean into it to soothe my weary soul. It still awes me. Every time.

In order to hear it though, we have to be silent and listen. To be alert to catch the sound. To give it thoughtful attention. To allow our hearts to soak it in.

On April 19, I am joining a study led by Linda Stoll on the book The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness In a World of Distraction by Adam McHugh.

Listening is so important, isn’t it? It is not only perceiving a sound but making a conscious choice of concentration so our brains process meaning from the words we hear. I really need to be more intentional.

If we would approach God as listeners, wouldn’t our relationship with Him be closer and richer? Of course, He wants us to sigh and cry and pour out all our troubles and needs to Him. But He also wants us to listen to Him with all our hearts.

I’ve been trying to listen to Him more, but often my thoughts get distracted when I try to become silent before God. How often do I really listen to His way? Or even want to know His way, because I am so determined to get my way? I want to really listen to His Voice and follow Him wholeheartedly.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.
No one can snatch them away from me,
John 10:27-28

Wouldn’t our relationships with people improve, too, if we would use our hearts and ears more than our mouths? So many hurting people just need someone to listen and care. When we throw out Christian platitudes, we might just add to their burdens.

How about listening to our emotions? I’m quick to preach at my emotions rather than listen to them. God gives us our emotions for a reason, so I’m hoping to learn more about this area as well.

Above all, I’m looking forward to learning more about the Greatest Listener of All. GOD Himself. The great King of all kings who lowered Himself as a servant to pay attention to us as if each of us is the only one. He listens to us and empathizes with us more than anyone in this whole wide world will.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me,
and I will listen to you.”
Jeremiah 29:11-12

Here are the chapters in the book, each chapter containing several sections:

– The Listening Life
– The King Who Listens
– Listening to God
– Listening to Scripture
– Listening to Creation
– Listening to Others
– Listening to People in Pain
– Listening to Your Life
– The Society of Reverse Listening

I hope you will join us in Linda’s 2nd Book Open House. Linda stirs up discussion by sharing some quotes and she welcomes anyone’s input, whether or not you buy the book. In the first book study, I didn’t buy the book, but I still gleaned so many insights from reading her posts and the comments. I find her blog to be a safe place where everyone is welcome and nurtured with tender loving care.

“God Help Me”
by Plumb

“There is a wrestling in my heart and my mind
A disturbance and a tension I cannot seem to drive
And if I’m honest, there’s quite a bit of fear
To sit here in this silence and really hear You

What will You ask of me?
Will I listen to Your voice when You speak?

Help me to move, help me to see
Help me to do whatever You would ask of me
Help me to go, God help me to stay
I’m feeling so alone here
And I know that You’re faithful
But I can barely breathe
God help me…”

28 thoughts on “Invitation To The Listening Life

  1. Wow, Trudy. Thanks for this beautiful invitation, inviting your fans to come along for The Listening Life ride. I’m so excited about what God has in store for us as we hunker down together to do the hard, necessary work of listening well.

    And Plumb, too. Fabulous.

    You’re a sweetheart …

    ;-}

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    1. You’re welcome, Linda. I’m really looking forward to what God has in store for us, too. Ever since you mentioned this book study, there has been such a longing in my heart to listen better. I have only read part of the first chapter, but there is so much to glean from it. Thank you for doing this. And thank you for calling me a “sweetheart.” 😊 May we open our hearts to truly listen to the many ways God speaks to us!

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  2. I am joining you in this book study, Trudy, and I’m so very excited about it. I’ve been attempting contemplative prayer in which the aim is to simply be still, quiet the mind, and listen for God’s voice. It isn’t easy, and I need more practice, so my hope is this book, and the discussions we share, will be of great help.
    Blessings to you!

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    1. I’m so glad you’re joining us, Martha. I so need more practice, too, in contemplative prayer. My mind gets so distracted. 😦 Blessings to you, too! May God quiet our minds and may we learn to truly listen for and to God’s Voice!

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  3. I am so glad you are joining Linda’s book open house. I will be popping in but not reading this time. I do know I need to become a better listener. The chapter titles alone sound like they will be very challenging. Blessings as you dig deep into the listening life.

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  4. Intentional about listening. I can be very intentional about my to-do lists! Stopping and really listening can make that ‘to-do’ lists a lot less stress-full when guided by the One who knows me much more than I do! I know I don’t always know what it is to hear God’s voice and can grow deeper in this way. I do have the book, and will be following Linda’s study for sure! Look forward to hearing about your journey’s as you read through the book Trudy!

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    1. I love what you say here, Lynn, about our ‘to-do’ lists becoming a lot less stressful when guided by the One who knows us more than we do. I’m so glad you will be joining. May we learn more of what it is to hear God’s voice and grow deeper in our relationship with Him!

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  5. Oh this is so good. I just signed up. Will order my copy tonight. My Scripture for this year is about hearing the Voice of the Bridegroom 😊. And I KNOW I need to learn to listen better. Thank you for letting us know about this, Trudy.

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    1. I’m so glad you signed up, Anna. I know how it weighs on your heart to listen to what God has to say to you personally. What a lovely Scripture to reflect on and internalize this year. I so need to listen better, too! May we learn to truly listen to the Voice of the Bridegroom!

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  6. Dear Trudy,
    This sounds like such a good book! I have read about other bloggers’ studies of it, and it always has such a good message. I look forward to reading your thoughts about it here. God continues to take me deeper into the places where I will be better able to listen to Him. It is such a continuous growing process, isn’t it? I am praying along with you that He will help me to listen to His words! Blessings, love and hugs!

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    1. Yes, it certainly is such a continuing growing process, Bettie. Thank you for praying along with me to listen to His Words! Blessings, love, and hugs to you, too! May God continue to take us deeper into the places where we will be better able to listen to Him!

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  7. I am looking forward to taking part in this study, Trudy! I’ve started reading the book and there are so many great thoughts even in the first chapter. I agree that learning to listen to God and people better is so important, and I hadn’t thought about listening to our own emotions so I’m looking forward to reading more about that. I look forward to reading some of your thoughts as we go through the book and I agree that Linda’s blog is a lovely, safe and welcoming place (as is yours). Love and hugs to you!

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    1. I’m looking forward to it, too, Lesley. I just started reading the book, too, and I’m not even through the first chapter, and already there are so many thoughts to ponder on. When Linda introduced the book, that part about listening to our emotions instead of preaching to them really drew me in. Thank you for your kind words! I’m so grateful you feel safe and welcomed here as well. I can truly say that about your blog, too. I always feel so understood and less alone. Love and hugs to you, too! May we learn to listen more with our hearts to God and people and to our emotions!

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    1. Thank you, Lois. Your last post really shows how God is leading you into deeper listening to His Voice and into the heart of others. I am looking forward to the follow-up of your talk and learning experience. Hugs back to you! May God give us ever deeper insight into listening in whichever way He chooses! Your way, God, not mine!

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  8. Dear Trudy, this book sounds so tempting! I think I had it on my Wish List for a while but would need to check my shelves to remember if someone puchased it for me or not. Too many books to know exactly what’s on them! Although I would love to join in with the book discussion, this is just not a good time for me to take on anything extra. I already feel really exhausted and overwhelmed. But I will definitely bear reading this book in mind for future days! Contemplative prayer has provided me with a hint of what it’s like to silently wait on the Lord and listen for His voice. Though the fullness of listening to God, to others and to what our lives are speaking to us is a whole other art form and spiritual practice I am but a beginner at. Thankfully, there is always room for improvement and space to grow as we develop better listening ears and heart! I hope you enjoy and benefit from the discussions to come. Blessings, love and hugs! xo ❤

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    1. I began reading it and it is filled with insights so far. I’m becoming a bit worried though that I will not be able to keep up. It’s longer than I thought. And I am learning that I get more out of a nonfiction book if I go more slowly, ponder the insights, and absorb Scripture references. I’m sorry you’re still feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, Joy. That can be so difficult. Sometimes I have to pray, “O God, You breathe strength into my spirit. Please also breathe energy into my body and mind.” I hope it for you, too! I’m still a beginner, too, at “listening to God, to others and to what our lives are speaking to us.” Blessings, love, and hugs back to you! May we keep developing better listening ears and hearts!

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      1. That’s my preferred way of reading nonfiction books too. Some I need to lay aside a while without finishing because they stir deep things within that need time out to deal with. May God give you wisdom and guidance in knowing how far to dive into this book. Thank you for the lovely prayer suggestion. Fatigue is actually making it hard to focus and concentrate in prayer, as well as affecting everything else. So this is perfect for right now! Yes to developing better ability to listen in every way! xo 💟

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        1. I know what you mean about laying aside a book, Joy. I’ve had to do that, too. Yes, fatigue certainly makes it hard to focus and concentrate. And sometimes I feel guilty when I realize I completely forgot to pray for someone because my mind just couldn’t put a thought together. It’s a blessing we have an Interpreter who carries our groans and understands us so well, right? xo to you, too!

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  9. Hi Trudy,
    Preaching to my emotions instead of listening to them — oh I do all this all the time and so glad to know we are kindreds in this! 🙂 Love the first photo of the shell – -did your brother take it? 🙂 Listening for the ocean in seashells is something I’ve done since I was a child at the beach and doing it always brings back such fun memories! Thank you for these thoughts today, and for encouraging us to listen well — to ourselves and others! xoxo Sending lots of love!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When Linda mentioned that preaching to our emotions instead of listening to them, it really drew me in. Yes, I guess we are kindreds in this! No, my brother didn’t take the shell picture. I found it on one of those free image sites. Then I added the words. 🙂 I guess we’re kindreds in loving to listen for the ocean in conch shells, too. 🙂 Sending lots of love back to you! May we learn to listen more deeply to God, others, and our own emotions!

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  10. Hi Trudy! I love your site! i realized that I read this a few days ago but didn’t get to comment- I think i got distracted by my someone needing something! Anyway, this is so happy, to think about ; the beach and listening to shells- Something so peaceful about the waves and them being so big. Feeling small next to that feels right.This sounds like such a great book/study!! thank you for sharing!! I would love to feel more confident hearing God’s voice! I look forward to hearing all that you got out of it! with much love and hugs!

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    1. Thank you, Susie. Busy moms have lots of distractions. 🙂 I’m sure homeschooling keeps you hopping, too. We lived not far from the ocean until I was 6, and I still have fond memories. Even of a wave washing over my head while playing in the sand. For some reason, it doesn’t leave a scary memory but a warm feeling. Now that we’re in the Midwest, it’s a special treat when we do get to the ocean. I’m with you on those waves being peaceful. I love the sights and sounds of them. Much love and hugs to you, too! May we both become more confident in hearing God’s Voice!

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  11. Sounds like a great book, Trudy! I enjoy Linda’s open houses. You’re right, we can learn so much from reading the comments of others. I know I can definitely benefit from learning to listen more to God and others. Thank you for this sweet invitation! Blessings on your weekend, my friend!

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    1. Me, too, June. We can never learn enough about listening to God and others, can we? Blessings on your weekend, too! We are presently in the midst of a major blizzard. 😦 But as you mentioned in your reply at your blog, it would be worse to be in the winter in our souls. Thank you for that encouragement. May we open our hearts ever more deeply to God’s voice!

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  12. Awww, friend. It seems like sometimes, listening is a forgotten art. When my days are too busy I’m a terrible listener. To God. To my boys. To my heart. I’m learning to be more intentional. But I’m also learning to identify the times when I’m not listening well, and why. Often, I need to set aside a task to really listen, engage, love the other person. Too often, it’s one of my boys who gets the, “Give me a few more minutes . . . ”

    Great post, my sweet friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, truly listening is difficult, isn’t it, Jeanne? Thank you for sharing what you’re learning. I think identifying when and why we’re not listening is a big step. It’s not always easy to set aside a task, but it’s so important to those who need to feel listened to and loved. May we together learn to be more intentional, engaging listeners to God, others, and to our own hearts!

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