I can’t hear you but I’m listening

My brain is overwhelmed with a multitude of new and important things at the training I am currently sitting in. Did you know that trauma and neglect in early childhood actually changes the shape and size of the brain?
My own brain hurts from listening to statistics and documentation about how children of neglect actually have fundamental areas of their brains missing.

I sit in a room that is too hot or too cold, that is slightly stale smelling, in a chair that is undoubtedly a modern torture device and listen to someone drone on. The information is valuable and the subject is dear to my heart and yet I tune out. I stop listening and I start to think of other things. Something catches my attention, pulling me away from the speaker and the slideshow. I slowly turn my head side to side trying to narrow in on the culprit of the squeaking noise. I become obsessed with finding which one of the other people in attendance is tapping their pen so rudely on the table. Then I hear the presenter ask if anyone has a question! I snap back and realize that I haven’t heard anything of importance. I wasn’t even really listening.

I do this at other places as well. Namely church. I sit in the cushioned chair and I stare blankly ahead. I don’t know when I stopped listening to what the pastor is preaching. My bible is open in my lap but the page isn’t correct. I try to find where I left off and fumble with the pages. I get angry at myself and try to focus. Church ends and I feel hollower than when I walked in. I hear his words but they don’t reach my soul. I have missed the point completely.

Our four-year-old daughter likes to talk. NO – she loves to talk. Like most parents we have to tune our kids out sometimes and that is normal. You can only listen to the same story told by a toddler so many times before you start to get a nervous tick and your eyes starts to twitch! Yet, I find myself pulling into my driveway and turning the car off, to realize she has been talking the entire way home and I could not tell you one thing that precious girl said to me.

I don’t hear God. I never have. I joke that he only talks to my sister and not to me because I never feel like he is talking to me. I never hear him. I talk to him, I ask things of him, I praise him but I never hear him back. I wonder what is wrong with me. I hear people say, “God spoke to me”, “it was as clear as if God himself was talking to me”, or “he placed the words on my heart”. I get bitter when people say these things. I ask God why he doesn’t talk to me? Why am I not worthy? I get annoyed when I don’t hear an answer from him.

That is where I have gone wrong. I realize I have been hearing everyone just fine. I have the ability of taking in sound through my ear; I hear everything. I am not listening. I hear the words but I don’t listen to them. I get the certificate for my training hours but I didn’t listen to the content. God has been trying to reach me but I haven’t been listening to him.

Did I miss something important someone was trying to tell me? That sweet little voice that tells me stories that seem silly is really trying to include me in her life. She is trying to explain things that her four-year-old mind can’t process because of her trauma. Her brain is still trying to form so she tells me silly stories and tries to make sense of what she can’t process.

Did I hear the words and miss the meaning? I go back and look up the scripture that was preached on in church. I find meaning in the text and in the context of my life. I look over the handouts from the training and realize I remember what was said. I have that knowledge after all.

Job 33:14-15
For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though no one perceives it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on people
as they slumber in their beds

Can you hear God if you aren’t listening for him? I have stopped trying to hear God. I just listen. I listen to my breathing as I try to stay calm. I listen to the rain and the giggles of little girls playing in the living room. I listen to the slow cadence of the baby in my arms breathing. I stopped trying to hear God and realized I was listening to him all along. In all the little things, I was listening to him.

I may never hear his words clearly. I may not be able to say that God talks to me. That’s ok now. Listening to God is much more important that hearing him.

Amanda Tingle Taylor
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Amanda Tingle Taylor

Amanda is an elementary school art teacher living just south of Atlanta. She shares her home with her husband, daughter, foster children and a menagerie of animals. Her passion for helping others and her desire to share the word of God with the hurting and lost comes through in her artwork, photography and writing.
Amanda Tingle Taylor
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  • Lately, I feel much of the same “not hearing, but I am listening.” This is a beautiful and timely reflection. Thank you for sharing. <3

  • Thank you for these vulnerable words. I have the problem that when I am not hearing, I stop listening. Stop speaking, too. Just run away. Thank you for reminding me to listen even if the hearing doesn’t seem to be happening. It will. Showing up matters. Love you!