"We speak volumes, but we listen in snippets. . . . we find ourselves building lives that shelter us from having to truly listen. We may move into churches and neighborhoods full of people whose views parallel our own, avoiding the dissonance created by contrasting voices by constructing theological and social echo chambers. We crystallize our beliefs and cease to ask questions. The great hope of the Internet has been that dialogue will prevail, that people with different theologies, worldviews and politics will log in to learn, grow and communicate with those who disagree with them. Yet it would seem that social media has helped people connect with like-minded people, and the unfortunate consequence has been the intensifying and radicalizing of beliefs and the deeper entrenchment of people's beliefs. We settle into our own little truth corners.
"What the Bible portrays as a household of faith instead becomes a scattering of encampments, people who warm themselves by their own fires, whoop with their own war cries, listen solely to their appointed leaders and only interact with the other camps when firing arrows. . . .
"Therapists I know say that many of their clients meet with them simply because they are not being listened to in their most important relationships. Without diminishing the value of professional therapy, I would argue that the fact that we pay millions of dollars annually for people to listen to us indicates our poverty in this arena. Everyone is talking, but so few people are truly being heard.
"We need to learn how to listen because all the talking in the world will not make our relationships what we want them to be, and it will not make us into the sort of people we want to be. Our longings for intimacy will not be satisfied through one-way conversations and interactions that feel like competitions. Our desire to be transformed will not be met through giving voice to all the noise in our souls. Our identities will not be discovered in finding our own voice independent of others but in helping others find their voices.
"We learn how to listen because we want to learn how to love. We want to learn how to practice hospitality, how to truly welcome people into our lives. We want to be story-hearers and not just storytellers. We want to find the internal quiet and stillness that will open us to being changed. We want to learn how to listen because we want to become more human."