Finding my Home in the Listening Space

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“I’ve been listening for a year and a half.

Listening to the sounds around me that started foreign and have become familiar. Listening to how my new friends describe the happenings around me and the meaning behind the holidays we celebrate in Nepal.

I constantly gather information, storing as much as my heart and mind can hold.

I haven’t spoken a lot.  I think there are still some people who don’t realize I speak their language fairly well. I suppose I’ve gotten into the habit of just being, taking in all that is around me.

I’ve come to realize that’s not so bad a habit.

I’ve learned so much in the listening.

I’ve left room for others to share their hearts with me as I process what has been said and offer little in return save the listening. For fear of embarrassing myself in my language inadequacies, I avoid saying too much, but it turns out saying little is sometimes a gift.

It’s a gift to me, peacefully pondering all the words I’m trusted with, and quietly storing them in my heart. It’s saved me from turning conversations towards myself when they aren’t about me at all. It has allowed me to savor the sweet words, interpreted but not interrupted by my urge to punctuate the silence with quick drawn response.

It’s a gift to the speakers. They know I try to understand and take in all the meaning just to be nearer to knowing them. While often my listening is laced in a desire to learn and understand this language, the end result is the learning and knowing of another person.

Certainly that is a gift to us both.

Those who know me in my home country and in my first language may be surprised with how quiet I have become in a room full of people, how little attention I draw to myself. I still remember a high-school teacher referring to me as the girl who entered a room mouth first.

That’s not me anymore.

I’ve been freed from my big mouth to open ears. The space of listening is a home I’ve grown to love.”

5:00

 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:  For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God (James 1:18-20).

20 Comments

  1. This is beautiful, and beautifully expressed. If you hadn’t mentioned it, I would never have thought it was written by someone new to the language. The lesson is so important to all of us, though. How much can be learned in silent attentiveness!

    • Your words are so kind and lovely, but I am NOT new to the English language. I have lived in Nepal for the last year and a half and am learning the Nepali language. It is, indeed, an important lesson and one I’m thankful to have learned in the challenging and tedious process of learning a foreign language. God bless.

  2. Love seeing God’s transformation at work and so beautiful it has come in learning a new language: it takes a lot of concentration, doesn’t it?! God uses every struggle for good, doesn’t He: “While often my listening is laced in a desire to learn and understand this language, the end result is the learning and knowing of another person.”

    BTW I really appreciated your post about sending your daughter to preschool. Such a courageous step: but exactly what God calls us to do with our children- to release them into His safe care – and something that encourages me as a Mommy. My parents did the same with us- we attended local German-speaking kindergarten and school, when my parents were there as missionaries in the 1980s.

    • So very true! It has been one of the most challenging times of my life, mentally and spiritually, but He is working it all for my good.

      I love connecting with missionaries and grown up MKs! Thank you for sharing with me about your parents and the words of encouragement in the decision we made to send our daughter to school. Letting go is hard, as I am sure you know, but the blessings have been many.

  3. Love this: ” For fear of embarrassing myself in my language inadequacies, I avoid saying too much, but it turns out saying little is sometimes a gift.” I can completely relate to this, only my context is Afrikaans. It’s such an amazing gift to be a good listener, regardless of how we learn it. Such a good reminder.
    I love hearing your stories in Nepal! Keep them coming!
    Shauna Blaak (FMF#19 this week)

    • Thank you, Shauna! I didn’t know that you have learned Afrikaans! Very neat! I have some friends in South Africa but they are learning Xhosa. Their kids hear/learn some Afrikaans at school, however. Thanks you for coming here and reading the lessons I learn here in Nepal. See you over at your blog.

      • Yeah, I actually understand more than I can speak though. In January, we’ll have lived here for ten years already. I’d better know at least a little Afrikaans (especially since I had to help the kids study for Afrikaans exams and prepare oral presentations). 🙂 It’s been entertaining, to say the least.
        Are you learning Nepali?

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