If You Listen, Do You Hear?

Last Saturday morning, when I was cleaning my bathroom sink, I remembered a conversation I had with my Mom the night before. But I could only remember the first part of the conversation, so I wondered if I hadn’t really given her my full attention. When I was through cleaning the sink, I went into the kitchen to talk with my husband. I opened a cabinet door to show him something I recently bought to organize one of our shelves. To my surprise, he said he had just come into the bathroom, told me he saw it and thanked me for getting it. I remembered he came into the bathroom but I have no memory of that conversation. Thankfully, we were able to laugh about it.

What my husband didn’t know, was that when I acted like I was listening to him while I was cleaning the sink, I was actually wondering if I had been listening to my Mom the night before. But I had not even heard what my husband had said because I was so deep in thought, wondering if I was a good listener or not. Thankfully, I remembered the rest of the conversation with my Mom, and felt relieved I had listened to her. But the humor of this incident was not lost on me, and I instantly knew the answer to my question. Yes, I need to listen more and yes, I have much room for improvement! 

I like this quote from the Semiotician, Roland Barthes that defines the distinction between listening and hearing. "Hearing is a physiological phenomenon; listening is a psychological act." If you can relate to my story, join me in asking God to bless my physiological and psychological ability to hear and listen.

Lord, give me ears to hear the words people are saying, to understand the things they aren’t saying and to clearly hear You speaking to me.  And like it says in Isaiah 28:23, please help me to listen and hear Your voice; help me listen carefully and hear Your words.


~ Tami Gaupp ~