A teachable heart


By Betty Slade | PREVIEW Columnist

My Sweet Al and I were invited out for a nice dinner. I told him, “Be sure to put in your hearing aids.”

He told me, “My hearing aids come off when I take off my glasses. I’m not wearing them.”

“You need to decide if you want to hear or see. Wear your glasses or your hearing aids? All I know, I don’t want you to sit there all evening grinning like a possum when someone asks you a question.

“I don’t do that. Do I?”

“No, but you disappear. You aren’t present. You don’t engage with the conversation. Afterwards, you ask me what was said. You need to wear your hearing aids and learn to practice being present.”

I might add, this conversation fell on deaf ears. A conversation with a friend produced no change, either. There was no problem with her hearing, just what she heard. When I joined some friends for lunch, I decided to be honest. Of course, they encouraged me to feel free to speak my mind. They gave me the floor. I took it.

I said to one of my friends, “You are my naysayer.” My words didn’t register; I said it again. “You know, that person who criticizes, objects to and opposes everything that I do. The one who puts her heels in the dirt when there is a new idea. The one who complains about everything.”

I looked at my three friends at the table. They couldn’t believe I had the gall to say this, but they did encourage me to be honest. Now I was on a roll, there was no stopping me. This subject was six years in the making, so I let my words come forth through a veil of laughter, a hug and a pat. I was determined to speak my mind.

My friend didn’t hear; she wanted to explain why she did what she did. I gave her another example. She said she was misunderstood. I said I was unappreciated. Honesty fell on deaf ears on both sides.

I’ve developed new insight since these two recent events. It’s not about the ears or hearing, there is something else going on. The truth is they don’t want to hear.

I read how Jesus explained to his disciples about the condition of the four grounds in Matthew 13. Seeds fell by the wayside and birds devoured them, other seeds were thrown on stony places and the seeds didn’t have roots and withered. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns choked them out. But some seeds fell on good ground and produced a crop.

After Jesus told them about the ground, the disciples didn’t want to hear the message, they wanted to know why he talked in parables. They weren’t listening.

He continued. There was nothing wrong with the seed, which was God’s word planted into the ground. It was all about the ground, which represented the condition of the heart. Only one ground was prepared to receive, to be able to nurture and grow the seed. It wasn’t about their hearing; it was about their heart.

Jesus explained to them they had been given intimate insight into the hidden truths and mysteries of heaven’s kingdom. They should have been able to understand the parable. He said everyone who listens with an open heart will receive progressively more revelation.

I told my Sweet Al he has a beautiful heart. A much nicer heart than mine.

I am becoming aware of older people who seem to check out while they still have a lot of living in them. Life becomes a chore to them. They’ve lived their life and they don’t want to deal with change, things or people.

Jesus quoted Isaiah. God called Isaiah to spread the message, but he also said, the people are not going to hear you. “They look and pretend to see, but the eyes of their hearts are closed. Their minds are dull and slow to perceive, their ears are plugged and hard of hearing and they have deliberately shut their eyes to the truth.” — Matthew 13 (TPT).

I understand. When we get older, it’s hard to hang in there and continue to change and grow in what life is dishing out. It’s easier not to be present. Also, it’s easier to have an excuse for what you don’t want to hear.

Final brushstroke: Are my Sweet Al and I still talking? Yes. Did my friend and I hug, laugh and promise to get together again? Yes. Why? Come to think of it, they did hear, but maybe they chalked up my honest words with knowing how I am and knowing they weren’t going to change.

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