From the chapter “Listen Well” in the book Equilibrium: 31 Ways to Stay Balanced on Life’s Uneven Surfaces 

Is listening a strength or a weakness in your life? Who do you feel most comfortable talking to? Why? Who do you enjoy listening to? Why? What can you begin doing to become better at listening well? Is there anything standing in the way to keep you from taking those steps?

* Force yourself to pay attention.

Admit it. Paying attention isn’t always simple. It is vital, though. It is necessary, though. For healthy relationships with others and with God and with ourselves, we need to practice and improve our listening skills. Force yourself to pay attention.

* Repeat what you have heard. 

One way is to repeat what you have heard. Take notes. Write a report of what you hear or read or watch. Ask a friend or family member, “Is this what you are saying to me?” Repetition is a friend to attention.

* Exercise your listening skills. 

Take time to practice when you are alone. If you want to improve in other areas, you practice. Why not do that for listening? Why not do that for learning? Why not do that for memorization? Schedule time. See it as a priority. Work your listening skills and improve them.

The bad news is around us. But I want us to not allow the sad news or the bad news or the life of fear to control us. I want us to believe again, to receive peace and hope again, to trust again.

Psalm 112 the psalmist wrote an alphabetic acrostic where twenty-two lines correspond to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Mighty in the land? Blessed? Wealth and riches and righteousness? Even in darkness light dawns for the upright?

Gracious and compassionate and righteous? Good will come? Generous and lending freely? Conducting affairs with justice? Never be shaken? Remembered forever? Having no fear of bad news? Hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord? Secure hearts? No fear? Triumphing on their foes? Freely scattering gifts to the poor? Righteousness enduring?

I love the line: “Even in darkness light dawns” (verse 4).

I want to hear that line. I want to let those words balance the chaos all around us.

Instead of sudden assumptions or gossip or bitterness or hate or unkind words or criticism or judgement, what if we listened to the stories of others? What if we listened—really listened—to their stories? What if we believe that even in darkness light dawns?

Let us listen.