Why Listening Matters Now More than Ever
I’m a romantic. I started writing poetry in kindergarten and never stopped. I’ve always loved a good “chick flick,” and I buy my wife flowers and candles partly because I like the way they look and smell, too. (Don’t tell her.) Who can forget the way Jack embraced Rose on the prow of the Titanic? Or the remake of Romeo + Juliet, where they flirted through the glass? Swoon. Did you cry as hard as I did at the end of The Notebook? Ugly tears, y'all.
But can we talk about my favorite love story of all. freakin’. time? Children of a Lesser God (1986) so encapsulates love that crosses even the most difficult barriers (Somebody cue Love in Any Language). The premise of the story is a hearing teacher who falls completely in love with a Deaf employee at the school where they both work. The teacher is a speech pathologist and the employee isn’t at all interested in learning how to talk. They’re both fiery and wildly passionate about their particular views on deafness and speech, but they are even more consumed with love and lust toward one another. But when they come to the end of the movie, after loving and fighting like wild animals, James (William Hurt) signs to Sarah (Marlee Matlin), “Do you think there's someplace where we can meet that's not in silence and not in sound?” Oh my gosh. All the feels.
James is saying to Sarah, “I hear you.”
They have two different worldviews. Two completely different experiences. It could be said that James and Sarah are from opposites sides of the tracks. They’re both strongly opinionated. And for the entirety of the movie, each of the main characters act like closed-minded, stubborn asses. They shout and kick and throw things.
But, those three little words, “I hear you,” changes everything.
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I know American politics is far from a love story. But even if you can’t love the person across the aisle, even if you cannot find the tiniest glimmer of hope for a Donald Trump presidency, even if you vehemently disagree with the political ideologies of your neighbors or “friends” on social media … can you hear them?
Can you allow respect for the humanity of another person to win the battle of your pride? Can you slow down and be silent long enough to make eye contact, remembering that at the end of the day, none of us have this thing all figured out? Can you choose to be kind, when you are dying to be right?
Can you say to them, “I hear you”?
Loving our enemies isn’t easy. Actually, it’s really effing hard. And yet, I think Jesus was fully aware of the struggle when he commanded us to do it anyway.
Maybe you don’t feel love toward those you disagree with right now. Most of the time, I don’t either. Like, at all. But if we can just stop and hear each other, even just for a moment, we might find some common grace. We may even make a new friend, and that brings out the romantic in us all.
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*I created the “I hear you” image just for you! To download your free, printable PDF, sign up for my newsletter! Put it on your desk, your dash, or your fridge to remind yourself that all any of us really want is to be heard.