Listen Differently

Recently I was reminded of a talk Pres. Dieter Uchtdorf gave during the LDS General Womens Conference in October 2016 entitled “Fourth Floor, Last Door“. It’s a beautiful talk with many different ideas a reader – or listener – could take away from it. The specific part I took to heart was a short story he related about a young girl walking outside with her elderly grandmother.

Of course, there was much to see on their walk but this little girl was more particularly interested in the many sounds she could hear; specifically the many birds. And she made a point of sharing each one with her grandmother with a repeated, “Do you hear that?”

Being hard of hearing, her grandmother could not make out the sounds so she knelt down and explained to the small child, “I’m sorry. Grandma doesn’t hear so well.”

Not accepting her excuse, the little girl took her grandmother’s face in her hands, looked in her eyes and said, “Listen harder!”

Pres. Uchtdorf goes on to make the point that listening harder may not always be the best solution. And, I, as a wearer of hearing aids for several years now, totally agree. Pres. Uchtdorf suggested perhaps ‘listening differently’ is a better solution.

Whether it’s the song of the birds, the message of the spirit trying to teach us during a talk or the Holy Ghost answering a prayerful question, ‘listening differently’ may help me ease some of the frustration I feel so much of the time.

I talked once to my hearing aid technicians when they were making some adjustments. I complained that I wasn’t able to hear and understand my grandchildren when they whispered secrets in my ear. I also told them I had no friends at church because I avoided sitting by anyone, knowing they would reverently whisper and I wasn’t able to hear them enough to carry on a conversation. Would he please make adjustments so I could hear those softer tones better?

He explained to me that there was no breath in a whisper; no air. Therefore there was nothing – zip, nada, zilch – for them to work their technological wizardry on and increase volume.

It finally made sense to me.

Elijah was an Old Testament prophet who served God to the best of his ability. At one point in his life, he fled to the mountains where God gave Elijah the chance to rest and be physically nurtured for a spell. Then God taught Elijah something.

God told Elijah to stand upon a mount before Him. A strong wind came by; so strong it rent the mountains. But the Lord was not in the wind. Then an earthquake came. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, a great fire came. But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, a still, small voice.

And it was the still, small voice when Elijah heard the voice of the Lord.

God didn’t change his voice. Rather He taught Elijah to ‘listen differently’. {1 Kings 19:11-12}

And then Elijah heard it.

My hearing aid technician and all his technology that is continually updated, couldn’t change the message. I’ve had to figure out other ways to hear those whispered secrets.

Hopefully, with God’s patient tutoring, I will learn how to hear the whisperings of the spirit as well.


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