Know Better, Do Better: Making the Abundant Life Accessible for All
A few weeks ago, my husband and I had a conversation around what it means to actively listen. During a presentation he attended, the speaker shared that active listening is extremely rare. Instead of actively listening to what another person is saying, the “listener” often begins crafting their response.
That struck a chord with me. I am all too often guilty of this behavior.
Active Listening requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond, and then remember what is being said.Wikipedia
How often are we actively listening? How often are we willing to actively listen when someone’s thoughts and ideas align with ours? How often are we willing to actively listen when they don’t?
Last week, I paused to listen and learn from a wide range of voices—specifically, Black voices. Some voices I listened to I know and trust; others were new to me.
To truly listen, we have to listen to all voices, because if we don’t, we aren’t really listening—we are simply hearing what we want to hear.To truly listen, we have to listen to all voices, because if we don't, we aren't really listening—we are simply hearing what we want to hear. Click To Tweet
What Actively Listening Revealed to Me
Every morning, after grabbing my coffee, I sit down with a journal and pen and free-write whatever comes to mind—a practice known as morning pages. The goal is to get thoughts out of my head and onto the page. It’s a method of reflection I use as a means of paying attention to my life. Last week, as I engaged in this practice, I noticed themes emerge—new insights.
You may be wondering why I am sharing my thoughts on this here, with you. To live an abundant life, I believe we should always be learning in pursuit of continual growth. As shared in my Abundant Life Manifesto, “I recognize that I will always be a work in progress.”
In this space, I hope you feel stirred toward hope within the unexpected. I desire to cultivate a space where you encounter God’s provision + grace. So today, I am humbly sharing what I have been learning alongside my next (imperfect) steps. While these are my next steps, they don’t have to be yours. Instead, ask yourself, how is your heart being stirred? Are you truly listening?
The Abundant Life is for All
The abundant life offered to us through Jesus is not for some, but all. When I believe there are systems in place that prevent people from achieving an abundant life, it is my responsibility to take action.
A life of comfort is not what I am called to. The end of my comfort zone—a place I often feel weak—is a place where I ultimately experience the most growth. The abundant life is not a life of ease; it is a life where we are called to walk as Jesus walked and live as Jesus lived.
The abundant life is not a life of ease; it is a life where we are called to walk as Jesus walked and live as Jesus lived. Click To Tweet
“I believe weakness is not a place of lack, but a place where I have an opportunity to invite God in; a place to become fully whole; a place to experience the full extent of grace + peace God offers (2 Peter 1:2).Abundant Life Manifesto
Getting Quiet is Necessary
I must look inward to my own heart and mind before acting outwardly. The real work of change happens in quiet places. This week, as I reflected and learned, I uncovered truths I hadn’t recognized—mostly because I hadn’t been looking. A posture of solitude and reflection revealed that to me. Getting quiet is a necessary step to ensure my actions reflect my values. From there, I can step into action.
It’s Okay to Make Mistakes
I process slowly. As a result, I am often slow to speak and slow to react. I will never be a person quick to respond at the moment. Last week, I felt called to lean in—to pause my own voice so that others may be amplified as I looked within. After listening, learning, and reflecting, I came to realize that I will always feel doubt. I will always get things wrong. I will always make mistakes. Coming to terms with this, I discovered that fear cannot be what holds me back from sharing what I feel called to share.
We All Start Somewhere; It’s Okay to Be a Beginner
I feel behind while also feeling convicted that my voice matters. Refraining from using my voice is a disservice to Black lives. Refraining from speaking up is a privilege that others do not share.
If you feel the same way, can I encourage you that it’s okay to acknowledge that you are behind? That it’s okay to step up now? It’s not too late. It’s never too late to use your voice. In using your voice and highlighting your weakness, you may encourage others to take the first step.
Starting Small is Better Than Not Starting at All
Paralysis sets in when I feel overwhelmed and behind. Breaking down a goal into manageable pieces is my first step when these feelings hit. After each action, I ask myself what the next right thing is and move forward from there.
Last week, as one starting point, I committed to reading What Lies Between Us by Dr. Lucretia Berry. The journal and guide foster first steps toward racial healing. I’m working through it with a friend in addition to taking part in an online study starting next week.
“I lean on community for help + support because I am not meant to carry the burdens of this life alone (Galatians 6:2).Abundant Life Manifesto
I Want to Be In It for the Long Haul
Heart work is hard work and it doesn’t happen overnight. Progress takes time, but each small step eventually leads to change. The slow, steady growth that gives the heart room to be remolded and reshaped is what leads to lasting change.
In many ways, this week has been a week of first steps for me. A beginning. My first steps won’t be my last. But I also recognized that the first step is often the hardest. Now that they are underway, I can continue to pursue the life-long work of changing my thoughts and behaviors so that others may live the abundant life they were promised.
How is your heart being stirred?