The Weekly Breather: The Gift of Listening

Settle Yourself and Release

Find a quiet place to relax and be with God. Let go of your agenda for the day. Take some deep breaths.

Encounter: Feast on the Word of God

Read this passage over several times. Put yourself in the room with Jesus, Mary, and Martha.

Luke 10:38—42
Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; here is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”


Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together writes: “Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.”
Perhaps the best gift we can give is the gift of listening to others


Listen: An Appeal by an Unknown Author

When I ask you to listen to me
and you start to give me advice,
you have not done what I asked.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.

When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem,
you have failed me, strange as that may seem.

All I asked was that you listen.
Not talk or do — just hear me.
I can do for myself, I’m not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.

When you do something for me that I can,
and need to, do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and weakness.

But, when you accept as a simple fact
that I am feeling what I feel,
no matter how irrational it might be,
then I can stop trying to tell you
and get on with understanding
what is behind this feeling.

And when that is clear,
the answers are obvious and I don’t need advice.
Any (irrational) feelings make sense
when we understand what is behind them.

Perhaps that is why prayer works for so many people.
God is silent,
and He doesn’t give advice or try to fix things.
He just listens
and lets you work it out for yourself.

So, please listen and just hear me.
And if you want to talk,
wait a minute for your turn.
Then I’ll listen to you.



Christ in the House of Martha and Mary, 1886

 by Henryk Hector Siemiradzki

Oil on canvas

Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

What is it like to be listened to with the intensity and focus that Mary demonstrates?
Who in your life could receive this gift from you?


Dear Jesus,
Teach me to lay aside my own business of the Lenten season so I can be fully present to listen to another. Amen.

Kathy has experience as an elementary educator, teacher trainer, adjunct professor, and has served as Family Resource Director for a major hospital. Kathy is a Kentucky Licensed Pastoral Counselor and is credentialed as a Registered Play Therapist/Supervisor by the American Association of Play Therapy. She is owner of a private practice, Path of Life Ministry, in Wilmore, KY.


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