Learning To Listen So That You Can Love
Spirituality is overcomplicated for many people because they focus on process.
Spirituality can be simplified by focusing instead on the person–you, and how you grow.
For many years, I struggled to fit my spiritual growth around what other people told me I needed to do. As a Christian, I was always advised to read my Bible and pray every day–but often with little-to-no-help about how to do those things.
So I took stabs at praying at meals, praying on my way to school for a good day, and praying at bedtime before I fell asleep. Daily Bible reading became a chore as I felt pushed to read my Bible in its entirety every year, cramming in extra chapters when I didn’t feel like it, and having mammoth days of reading where I had to read 12 or more chapters to catch up after I had missed a day or two.
On top of this was the constant pressure to be at multiple church meetings each week and to serve the church in some capacity (over and above my commitment to the regular meetings). Oh, and if I really cared about my growth, I’d be evangelizing my neighbours as well.
Is it any wonder I felt, for decades, like an ineffective Christian?
I finally learned that spiritual growth is about simplifying, and spiritual growth can be simplified to two things–listening and learning.
In fact, Jesus talked about this. When he was asked which is the greatest commandment, he answered with two–loving God with your entire being and loving your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). The entire Old Testament tradition hinges on these two commandments, Jesus said.
If this is the case, then our spiritual growth must connect not with the burdens and expectations that churches put on us but with this kind of love.
To know how to love God with our entire being, we have to first listen to God to find out how he desires to be loved. To love our neighbours as ourselves, we have to first listen to ourselves to find out how we desire to be loved, so that we can do likewise for others.
Love requires listening, and listening leads us to love.
When we develop spiritual habits that lead us into deeper listening and deeper love, we are truly connecting with God, self, and others.
And this is where simple spirituality practices come into play.
Tomorrow, I will develop this a little further.