Learning to Listen

Listening Ear 1

She was sandwiched between the organic potato chips and sugar-free cereal.  I had always wished for a larger natural food section of our local grocery store but never for reasons this shallow.

“Dang it. If there were one more aisle I might be able pass by her line of sight.”

As I threw up the prayer “What should I do Lord?” I began to entertain remarkably illogical thoughts.

“Maybe I could stop, drop and roll under the produce bin and then belly crawl toward the front door?”

Yeah. Right.

You see the person before me was my enemy.


The word sticks to my tongue like the bad aftertaste of Coke that’s sat on the counter too long.

I had never (ever) thought of myself as someone who had an enemy. When I meet someone I’m certain I’m about to make a new friend. Generally speaking, I like people. It’s a phenomenon that often boomerangs. The result seems to be that most folks like me back.

Except her.

My enemy.

I lost count of the times I replayed that initial conversation. The one in which I must have said something to offend her. However, all the hyper-analysis in the world never brought me the thing I craved most…peace.

How does one come to terms with a situation like that?

I wish I could tell you that the answer was quick to surface but the truth is it took years. Over and over I would plea my “case” before the heavens and yet nothing changed.

Nothing that is until I spent less time with my mouth open and more time with my ears open.

I remember very clearly when my prayers began to shift. The recurrent theme was no longer “what do I need” but “what does she need”.

The first thing God whispered was,

Pray for her children.

That I could do.

Next He whispered,

Pray for her marriage.

I could do that as well.

Over time my heart began to soften. I became more and more receptive to God’s gentle nudges to pray for my enemy.

However, receptive is not the word I would use to describe what He whispered that day in the grocery store.

Go to her and give her a hug.

Praying in private was doable. This? Surely, He was kidding. It would be an understatement to say that the temptation to run was huge.

I argued with Him. All I wanted was potatoes that would land on a plate next to a fork on the table.

But God wanted to offer me a fork in the road.

Thank God I took it.

I walked toward her. I smiled. I asked how she was. As we said our goodbyes I gave her a hug.

The heavens didn’t part. Hallelujah choruses didn’t ring. We never became friends, in fact we rarely saw one another after that. It all sounds rather anti-climactic.

And yet…

It was the climax of a journey marked by years of inner angst (mostly self-induced) in which I learned to forgive myself and forgive another. More than anything I learned to listen. Not one dot of the experience was a waste.

Sweet friend, whatever our burdens I’m convinced God uses them to reveal just how much He cares about us. He wants us to talk to Him. I’m certain He loves hearing from us because He wants wholeness and healing for whatever our situation may be. But because that is His desire for us I’m also certain that ultimately——–

God wants us to listen.

We need someone to tell us there’s a better way…a fork in the road that we might not have discovered if we hadn’t stopped, asked and listened for direction.

If today, this is where you find yourself, perhaps the prayer below would be a good place to start.

“Father, you are intimately aware of the burden I carry. No one knows me better than you. I’m not sure what to do next, where to go, or how to respond. I only know it’s time for something different. I surrender my ideas of what the fix is. I’m asking you to take charge. Lead me where you want me to go. I’m giving you the only thing I really have…my ability to choose. Today, I choose you. Please accept my sacrifice of obedience and now make your word clear. I. Am. Listening.”

“Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself…” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 {Emphasis mine.}

I hope you’ll join me and many others as we connect with Suzie Eller over at the #livefree community! The topic? “That time God said________.”

Your (Still Learning to Listen) DoAhead Friend,




  1. Dyana Bounds says:

    Love this Cindy!!

  2. Cindy,
    What a wonderful story! I am inspired by how you listen to God’s prompting, I am sure the interaction meant a lot to your “enemy.” #livefreeThursday

Speak Your Mind