Our Empty Nest
Bittersweet Farm is what is often called “An Empty Nest.” Lois and I live here quietly alone after forty years of raising children, which was wonderful but rarely quiet. We miss the noise and the messes and the blessed chaos of it all. We miss the boys skateboarding in the basement. We miss the six-bags of trash as week at the curb besides the huge dumpster. We miss the wrestling matches in the living room. We miss the pew full of Pierponts at church. We miss the girls with all their hair appliances and beauty potions and lotions. We miss the laughter and the Sunday night pizza runs. We miss the stories around the table and the huge vats of goulash and spaghetti. We miss the conversations around the fire in the family room and movie nights. We miss listening to Chuk play his guitar. We miss Wes and Dan who moved through the house and moved to the other side of the world when it seemed like they were still boys. We think of that often. But our life is quiet. Bittersweet Farm is peaceful. We have a good life.
Bethel is a good place to serve. Bittersweet is a good place to live, and spring is coming on. It’s coming slow, but it is coming. The cranes are back in the “Mitten” and the forest is coming back to life. It snows but usually with less frequency and less intensity and we don’t mind. Saturday it was sunny and in the sixties. Today it snowed and turned the forest white. Now the snow is melting. Soon I will have no excuses to read and write in the corner of my room and I will need to get out and putter in the Carriage House and do the stuff the cold gave me an excuse to neglect all winther.
In the last couple Journals from Bittersweet Farm I have written about listening. First, I told the story about the powerful listening experience I experienced at Twelve Stones. The second was the story about my experience of listening in Israel. (I have since lost that piece, so if anyone out there saved it, I would consider that a sweet answer to prayer). Today I am passing along a little list of reasons to improve your listening skills. You can call it eight things that will happen when we listen well… or you could call it eight powerful reasons to improve your listening skills. Let me know what you think and send me my story about listening in Israel if you find it.
Eight Powerful Reasons to Improve Your Listening Skills
I recently read a biography of Eugene Peterson by Winn Collier. (A Burning In My Bones) Peterson was well-known for his words, especially his written words. He wrote books that will be in print for a long time. He wrote a very popular paraphrase of the Bible. You could say he was famous for his words, but those who knew him best would say that he was a very skilled listener. He was very slow to speak. He was very slow to give advice. He was a listener. He considered listening one of his most important pastoral skills. (The audio version of the Eugene Peterson bio. is read by Richard Poe and it is an amazing reading. Follow the link and click on the sample audio and you will be hooked).
Here are eight reasons listening is so powerful:
1—When you listen well you often diffuse anger. Prov. 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath…” Proverbs 29:11 — “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”
2—When you listen well you communicate love. Phil. 2:3-5 “…love is patient, kind…”
3—When you listen well you show honor. 1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
4—When you listen well you learn. (Prov. 19:27) “Cease to hear instruction my son and you will stray from the words of knowledge.” (Prov. 2:1-4) You can learn while you are talking but you can’t learn without listening and attending. You just cannot learn without paying careful attention. In conversation, when I really want to learn. I try to ask questions and summarize. I don’t want to interrupt.
5—When you listen well you are equipped to guide, teach, and protect others. (Prov. 18:2) “A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.” It can be useful to talk about yourself, but if you really want to teach or guide others, you have to listen to them and talk about them.
6—When you listen well you help and heal. Proverbs 20:5 Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out.
7—When you listen well you can help others reconcile and resolve conflict. Peacemakers are good listeners. (Matthew 18:15-17) “If he does not listen…” (Phil. 2:4) not just his own interests, but the interests of others.
8—When you listen well you are prepared to share the gospel effectively. Listening gives you insight into a persons soul so you can see the cracks where the gospel goes in.
I always want to learn and grow and progress in faith, character, and virtue. Since I was a child I have been known to be verbal, but I want to be a skilled and loving listener. God helping me.
March 7, 2022