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Listening to One Another
Rev Hung Kwai Fong
Inevitably, events of the past few months of social movement have made us uneasy or filled us with various strong feelings. Something needs to be done with these emotions so they will not take control of us consciously or unconsciously, and we will not resort to inappropriate actions or words that hurt others.
We need to create room in our hearts every day to search our souls. Just like the psalmist in a self-dialogue, let us learn to get in touch with our own feelings: "Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?" (Psalm 42:5) Take your feelings to the Lord. Give thanks for His love. The Lord calls us friends and readily listens to us so we can deal with these emotions through prayers. Take a moment to calm down before the Lord. I believe that just like Elijah, we can then be comforted and encouraged with hope by the still, small voice of God. We may even hear His guidance.
We all want to be listened to. We all need others' understanding, acceptance and support. I had an experience that made me realize that I did not know how to listen and helped me understand that listening itself brings about healing. In my university days, a classmate came to me and shared with me the troubles she felt due to her broken relationship with her parents. I cannot recall what I said to her at that time but I remember she said, "You don't need to keep talking to me. Just listen." That remark lingers in my ears to this day. Later in counseling class, I got a better understanding of the importance of listening.
Listening is no easy job, especially for those of us accustomed to making analyses, judgment, and finding solutions. We readily make suggestions or even talk about ourselves at length without caring about or watching the reaction of the one sharing. We are also too busy. We have no time to deal with our emotions, not to mention time and effort to listen to or practice empathy towards others' feelings. We are afraid that what they say may add to our burden.
It is entirely possible that the confusion and disorder in Hong Kong will not be resolved in the short term. As such, we all the more need to listen to one another. Together, we need to discern the Lord's guidance for us. Listening implies trust. We need to humbly admit that we do not know much. We must also accept the other party's genuine feelings and show appreciation for his/her frank sharing and trust. We should respond to those feelings with our hearts without being critical. Relationships need to be built with the heart. Broken relationships all the more needs to be mended by love. May God help us to start with the most basic of all remedies – listening. Listen to ourselves, then we can listen to God and brothers and sisters. Let us practice love by listening to each other and together experience the healing of the Lord.
"The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed" (Isaiah 50:4).