July 17, 2020

Guest Column / Richard Etienne

Find quiet moments in your life to listen to God speaking to you

Richard EtienneI have a memory of my mother saying, sometimes quite forcefully, “Did you hear me?”

I was recently reflecting on a person’s need to be heard. Do you like to feel that you are being heard and understood? I believe that humans have a basic need to be listened to and, maybe more importantly, to feel that the message they are trying to communicate is being received by the listener.

But I have noticed there is a good deal of frustration when a person has a need to share something, and it becomes apparent that no one is receiving—much less comprehending—the message being sent.

For example, have you ever started to explain something or started to answer someone’s question only to realize they aren’t listening or waiting for your response? I find this upsetting because it conveys the message that, in some way, I am not there. My presence is irrelevant or of no value, or something more important has captured their attention.

Why do we spend so much time talking on our cell phones? Is it a human need to be heard by another and validated as persons? In Psalm 61:2, we hear the psalmist say, “Hear my cry, O God.” In Psalm 80:2, we hear “O, Shepherd of Israel, lend an ear.”

There was a video a few years ago that went viral on the Internet where a young boy repeatedly asks to be heard.

This makes me wonder if God has a similar need to be heard as well. I am reminded of the Israelites who rebelled repeatedly in the desert. It is easy for us to look back, and see how they would not listen to or act upon the messages that God had sent through Moses. Many passages start with the phrase, “Hear, O Israel!” In Psalm 50:7, we read, “Listen, my people, I will speak,” and in Psalm 49:2, “Hear this, all you peoples!”

I also mention the Apostles, who seemed slow to understand what Jesus was saying and to see the larger picture as they moved toward Jerusalem. They often initially could not comprehend the message he was preaching. How often did Jesus say, “Amen, amen, I say to you?”

For many, it is even harder to see what is happening in the present. What message is God trying to send to his people? What is not being heard or acted on in my own life right now?

These questions are surely worth reflection during the moments of silence that one has to carve out of the noisy and busy life that surrounds so many of us.

Do you have a plan to find those quiet moments in your life today? What do you hear the Lord saying to you?

(Richard Etienne is a member of St. John the Baptist Parish in Newburgh, Ind., in the Evansville Diocese.)

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