Say Less, Listen More, Love More

by Tara Livesay on April 2, 2014

The world is a garish, noisy neighborhood. Decibels and pixels abound. The phone in my pocket spews more information in hours than I can assimilate in years. I’m reminded of my college speech prof who counseled tongue-in-cheek, “Shout louder if your argument is weak.” There’s a whole lot of shouting these days.  -My Uncle, Rick Porter

The Internet allows us to say too much.  I am convinced of it.  We have the time to say so much and somehow we have less time to listen or love.

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I grew up in the 80’s, it was a time of feathered hair, Duran Duran, ET, and The Cosby Show. It was a time before the Internet and social media reached us all. (My children don’t even understand what that means.) It was back when there was a cold war, instead of a daily internet war.  You know what I am trying to say, albeit cliché – it was a simpler time.

I am guessing that I am just one of  loads and loads of people who feel this way. I believe the very thing that connects the world, the WORLD WIDE WEB, is making us dislike one another with increased fervor.  I cannot possibly know if this is true for anyone but myself, but I wonder if we are so busy sharing what we think that we are not able to hear from God as well. (Either directly or through His chosen channels.) We are very busy saying things.  How much listening can we really do?

For years my Dad resisted moving forward with technology, I mocked him for hating email and wanting me to call him. To this day there are still hold-outs, the 60-somethings that just refuse to engage social media or digital communication. Today is the day I humbly submit my apology for mocking their resistance.  They knew something we didn’t know. They knew that noise overwhelms.

“How we hear or see God is likely as diverse as our styles and personalities. But we best begin in quietude. If you really want to hear Him and know Him, let the chaos of contemporary life settle. Listen for the whisper. Watch for the wink. Your faith will be encouraged and your life enriched. We dare not lose the best of forever in the noise of now”. -My Uncle, Rick Porter

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I recognize in myself a need to let the chaos settle – to be quiet. I don’t have a lot of answers or the time to listen for them, but oh so many things to say. I want to say less and listen more. I want Internet wars to go the way of the Cold War. I came up with some helpful questions that reduce my commentary by all the percents.

Five questions we (I) could ask ourselves (me) before we (I) post on-line:

  1. Why is it important for me to disagree with something I’ve seen? Do I need to prove myself? Do I need to be right?  Am I attempting to shame someone for their opinion?
  2. Does my disagreement in a public forum bring the person I am disagreeing with closer to Jesus?
  3. Does the tone of my thoughts convey respect and love for people who don’t think like me?
  4. Could I say, “Interesting thoughts, I want to think and/or pray on this for a few days and I may be back to dialogue after I do.”
  5. If I feel it is important to share my thoughts on a particular topic, could I share them and then end them more humbly by saying, “That is my belief, but I could be wrong.” (Tony Compolo just modeled this to me.)

Whatever the hot-button debate is, it is fairly common to see friends questioning one another’s sanity, love for Jesus, or comparing someone’s politics to Hitler. Something has happened that makes us bold enough to type things that we would not say if we were standing face to face. Nothing gets worked out during an Internet debate, I am afraid we need to find a way to stop the madness of our mouths (fingers) and find our ears again.

Maybe if we  found the quietude and listened more to God and  one another, our capacity to live AND LOVE  in the tension of varying opinions would increase. Maybe we could say less and listen to and love one another more.

Maybe not, I could be wrong.

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About Tara Livesay

Tara and her family have lived in Haiti since 2006. She resides in Port au Prince, where she serves as a CPM (Midwife) with Heartline Ministries - Maternity Center working in the area orphan prevention, Maternal and Newborn Health. Tara is a the wife of Troy, the mother of seven children ranging in age from 27 to 9 years old and has recently become a grandmother to 3 grandsons. Tara enjoys friends, laughing, sarcasm and spending time with her family.

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