Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.  Psalm 141:3

       Emotions have a way of smearing the lens of thinking and communication—especially in times of duress. It’s a challenge to say what you really mean, and to have the other person hear your intended message. It’s hard work to learn to communicate well.  

     Writer Barbara Minar relates that she had to learn new communication skills when her son became a teenager. She writes, “I learned to let John know how I felt. I also learned to get to the point. My teen tuned out when our ‘communication’ turned into an hour of lecturing. I concentrated on learning to listen. Often when John talked, I found myself planning my next speech. Instead, I learned to focus on what my son was saying.”

     If we love someone and feel like there is something that is not right in their world (whether it has to do with their choices or with our relationship with them), we often believe that they need to hear what we feel compelled to tell them. That becomes our priority. Maybe, instead, our goal should be to let them know we want to hear them. “The first duty of love is to listen,” it has been said.

     Perhaps the greatest cry of the heart is the need to be heard. Listening is one of the most basic ways to convey a sense of respect, to treat another person with dignity, and to affirm to them that they really matter.

*Will you ask God to help you really listen to people? Are you willing to lay down what you want in order to convey to them that what they need is important to you?

God, set a guard over my mouth today. I want to learn to listen. Help me to focus on the person in front of me and hear them the way that You hear me every time I call to You. Teach me this skill, this ministry of the heart. I ask this in the loving name of Jesus, Amen.

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