Our world is full of noise these days. Have you noticed? Everyone has an opinion and is taking freedom of speech to the extreme. Social media rants, protests, negative news reports, and arguments in restaurants and workplaces bombard our senses daily. Other voices hint at war as leaders trade insults and threats. After a while, it’s difficult to hear the still small voice of calmness and peace that is available to us. That’s why it’s important to listen with discernment rather than allowing everything we hear to invade your life and create fear and panic.
Here are some ways to utilize selective listening:
Filter the noise – The noise at most major sporting events is deafening. Often the decibel level increases when the opposing team is about to make an important play. Sometimes, the referee calls a time out and threatens to (or does) penalize the team whose fans are inciting the roar.
At times, you may feel you are navigating life in a noisy arena where the decibel level is continually increasing. Because so many voices vie for your time and attention it’s important to learn methods of filtering them. Decide if the clamor is a cause that warrants your interest or support. Does it really concern you? Will commenting on some brouhaha on social media make any difference or will additional comments your post generates only serve to further upset and anger you?
Filtering the world’s noise is a cultivated skill. Yes, be aware of what is going on around you, but don’t listen so long that you adopt the negativism and attitudes of loud, strident voices. Instead, focus on things that inspire you and bring you peace. Remember lessons of faith and trust and process what you hear through those filters.
Listen to the positive voices – I’m not sure why this happens, but there is a strange phenomena that occurs when women gather and a first-time mother-to-be is present. Suddenly, the conversation turns to horror stories of labor and delivery. Invariably, two or more began a litany of one-upmanship wherein they try to outdo each other with worst-case scenario birth stories. Ultimately, the mother-to-be is left wide-eyed and on the verge of tears by their graphic, embellished tales.
It’s the same with other life events. For some reason, we remember, and recount, the hardest, worst, most challenging times to those who are dealing with difficulty, thinking we connect as partners in their suffering, when, in fact, we discourage and bring no comfort. We could all use a crash course in providing encouragement via our presence and practical support rather than many words.
So often, forward motion is impeded by negative voices that echo from years ago, ricocheting around our minds, convincing us it’s pointless to try to for the next goal, attempt the next endeavor, or simply take one step beyond a current crisis. Reject those voices from the past along with those of present-day naysayers. Listen for words of support and wise counsel. And then go a step further and speak those words to others.
Hear truth – Doomsday prognosticators have always existed. The most recent predicted the end of the world just last week. But guess what? The earth is still spinning and the sun is still shining in my little corner of the world. People continue to learn and love and live. We can all waste time and incite fear with what-if scenarios of doom and destruction, or we can listen for and promote words that build up instead of tear down. We can speak words that provide hope.
God doesn’t blindfold us, spin us around, and leave us dizzy and groping. He provides wisdom and courage for each step of the journey and whispers words of peace and comfort. So which voices are you listening to? Choose wisely.
“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 NLT