I am reminded of three things this week.
The first being that everything exists to teach me something (if I allow it to): the trees blowing in the wind, a leaky faucet, confusion, my failing health, an unexpected conversation, pain, deep longing, desire. Everything. I only need to stop talking long enough to listen.
The second thing I am reminded of is this…the most interesting people in the world are those who are most interested in me. This was a lesson I learned several years ago. The idea that listening (really listening) is difficult work…more difficult than talking (but more rewarding, too), and the best thing I’ve ever done for my relationships.
If you want to deepen your relationships, look at the people you value most in your life…those you love not merely because you are related to them. Why do you value you them so much? Likely for many reasons, but I’m betting the common denominator is the simple fact that they are acutely interested in you and what you have to offer. They actively listen…really listen…to what you have to say.
Finally, none of us live in a vacuum. Our actions, small or large, affect someone else…especially true in a world linked by cell phones and satellites and the Internet. But first consider my non-technological example of how interconnected the world is. Pollution in China is carried by ocean breezes across the Pacific to American shores. Now, how about a technological one. A television show in England affects attitudes and styles around the world through the BBC. Even small things, like the way I treat my next door neighbor, has a much bigger impact than I could ever imagine, because that neighbor perhaps goes and does likewise.
Even if my actions are done in the darkness, they will be brought into the light. Typically, things can only be kept a secret for so long (as Bono says, “a secret is something you tell one other person”), and of course, ultimately, in God’s eyes, there is no secret or hidden thing. The writer of Ecclesiastes, after a lifetime of indulging his senses in every way imaginable…sex, money, food, wine, fame…comes to this conclusion: “Fear God and do what he commands, and that’s it. For eventually God will bring everything to light, whether it is good or evil.”