Listening as Love

My dear friends,

Deacon Tim and I recently came across a priest who has a wonderful gift for speaking about prayer and other aspects of our Christian life. His name is Fr. Francis Valerio, and I want to share with you just a few excerpts from a reflection he wrote on prayer, emphasizing the importance of listening and openness. I’m sure you will find this very helpful for your own life.

Listening

Listening is one of the most intimate actions we can offer to another person. Listening is loving. Listening says: “You are valuable, your voice, your thoughts, your feelings matter… you are worth my time and sacrifice, worth receiving all that’s in your heart and on your mind.” God honors my entire self and desires to see and listen to me (Song of Songs / Solomon 2:14). We are created for relationship and the only way relationships grow is when there is mutual honoring and reverence. In relational prayer, after I have shared the thoughts of my heart, it’s time to listen to God’s heart speak to me. To only share my thoughts with God, without listening to His, is not honoring. It’s dumping. One of the greatest causes of loneliness today is the absence of mutual, honored listening. Listening is loving…and where there is love, the Holy Spirit moves.

Where there is safety – our hearts open to Love

We desire to be known, but sometimes our shame and pride tempt us to fear Love…to fear Love’s gaze…to fear vulnerability. What will God do? How will Love respond if all of me is really seen and known? Jesus is not ashamed of the messiness of my humanity. On the Cross Jesus has chosen to be vulnerable to me first. There He has already embraced all of my wounds, hurts, pains and sin. God understands me. Jesus continues to invite us out of our fear-based shame and pride into greater vulnerability. In this vulnerability of being known we will know God’s presence (and mercy), the gift of peace and hope (Matthew 11:28; Psalm 139; John 4:29; 1 Peter 5:7). Without this vulnerability our fears will always have some control over us. Most of us have to learn how to be loved by God’s kind of love…this is where we grow in trusting Jesus.

Where my heart feels safe, it will open to Love. Where my heart does not feel safe it will close and wall off to others. When God becomes my safety I am free to be open and vulnerable. A good question to ask myself In Relational Prayer, if I stay with whom I feel safe, my heart will open more to God’s Love (1John4:18). In that openness I will be able to receive more Truth from God, which will encourage me into greater intimacy with the entire Trinity, step by step. In this relationship we find our hope, belonging, value, freedom, peace, and purpose.

Be not ashamed: our greatest struggles can lead us to freedom

It’s helpful to ask Holy Spirit for greater awareness in where I struggle the most, where I am most tempted, where I react instead of respond to others, where I tend to control and manipulate to feel safe or to get my way. Where I struggle the most is where God wants to help me the most. Where I struggle the most is where I need the most Love and Truth. Jesus came for those who admit they need a doctor, not for those who trust in themselves, in their own intellects, their own goodness (Luke5:31-32/Rom:21-16/Titus3:5/John15:5). God is not ashamed of me or mad at me because of my weakness, sin or past. God is already present in the messiest places within me, waiting for me there. Will I meet Him there and let the Lord help me, embrace me, heal me, forgive me, restore me by His Grace? (Romans 5:6-11/ Colossians 2:13-15).

Jesus bless you,

Fr. Steven

 

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