“So, you have the rest of the time today to work on your assignment. The rough draft is due next Tuesday. All of the requirements and details are spelled out in Canvas” No more than two seconds after wrapping up my verbal instructions, I heard the anxious plea.
“Mrs. G! Mrs. G! When is this due?” The eager freshmen beckoned me to her direction.
“Did you read the directions? Go back and reread. Your answer lies within.” I graciously replied as I walked away to assist the next need which I anticipated its arrival within moments.
“Mrs. G! Mrs. G! Where do we turn in our assignment at?”
“Take a look in Canvas at the assignment.” My frustration was ranking high on the scale as rhetorical questions continually fired at me like bullets from a firing squad. I had to intervene before this war went too far.
“Everyone. 99.9% of your rhetorical questions are answered if you would have listened and then checked back in Canvas for the assignment. You have to actually read and pay attention to what is says.” I spoke my two-cents of piece as I zipped up my bulletproof vest and ventured back into the line.
What is the deal! Did they not hear what I just said? Then it dawned on me. Hearing is when sound reaches your ear and produces a reaction. Listening is when sound enters in and you comprehend what is heard. They had the hearing part down. They were hearing each other talk, giggle, or type, but listening they were not because they were not consciously tuning into the directions being given resulting in a thousand redundant questions and one frustrated teacher.
To confirm that I was not losing my mind about this whole listening/hearing theory, I did a little “Googling” moved past the first few hits of highly paid ads and came across an article from the New York Times Sunday Review Addition supporting my theory titled: The Science and Art of Listening.
In short, the article depicts the difference between a conscious awareness when you are listening compared to taking in sound while you are hearing. “The difference between the sense of hearing and the skill of listening is attention.” (Horowitz)
Horowitz continues to explain how listening is a learned skills that needs to be fine-tuned and that listening means paying attention. “Attention is not some monolithic brain process. There are different types of attention, and they use different parts of the brain.” (Horowitz).
In addition, the article stated the validity of the skill of listening since “(But) Listening is a skill that we’re in danger of losing in a world of digital distraction and information overload.” (Horowitz) Based on my daily observations, Horowitz hit the nail on the head. “(Because) Listening tunes our brain to the patterns of our environment faster than any other sense, and paying attention to the nonvisual parts of our world feeds into everything from our intellectual sharpness to our dance skills. (Horowitz). In other words, listening is a necessary skill to be successful in life.
This skill moved me to take a microscopic view into my own life listening skill and walk of faith. When I am reading God’s word and applying it to my life, am I hearing his word or am I really paying attention and listening?
“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.“(James 1:23-24)
When I arise early to spend time in his presence or stay up late, do I merely hear his still small voice and mistake it as my own, or do I focus in and listen to the words he whispers in my heart?”
Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10Or, as I move through my day and begin to lean more and more upon my own ideas and answers, do I brush aside what I am hearing from God, or do I pay attention and listen to the resolutions for my life.
“Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” (John 8:47)
Yikes!! What a bold statement for John. If we do not hear God’s words and apply them to our lives, we do not belong to Him. I don’t know about you, but to me, the thought of being separated never to hear God’s voice again is terrifying! Instead, I want to make sure that I not only hear but pay attention and listen to what God is wanting of my life.
“And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 28:2)
Although my freshmen hear the words I am stating, the battle in fine-tuning the skill of listening will continue in hopes of becoming a new way to learn just like in my own life as I hone in on the voice of my Savior the more in tune I will be with Him.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:27-28)