Whitney rarely comes to me with math problems. As we reviewed and discussed a challenge the other night I found myself stuck on a seventh-grade problem that appeared to be right out of high-school geometry. I knew some of the answers were in Carli’s geometry textbook, so we went looking in that direction. As we solved one and gave up on the other the conversation that followed went along these lines.
“Did your teacher go over this in class?”
“Yes, but we really could not hear.”
“Every time he tried to explain the problem the school bells would ring. After a while we gave up. That was about the time class was over anyways. We could not ask any questions because many of us had to leave.”
“You couldn’t wait to ask the teacher a question?”
“We did not want to be in trouble for being late to our next class.”
“So you never heard an explanation?”
“We couldn’t. It was too noisy.”
So we sat proving the proverb that “simpletons only learn the hard way, but the wise learn by listening.” (Proverbs 21.11) Two-way conversations are crucial to learning. In life one rarely learns by random discovery; everything involves mentor, teacher, guru and student. Master and apprentice is another variation on the theme. These types of relationships work if one is able to hear and listen!
I find life confusing and complex much of the time. I struggle to understand just what is going on, yet the challenge is often simple if one could take an objective view. That is where listening is so crucial. Others have been down the path that you and I share. We can avoid their mistakes if we take the time to listen to their experience. The keys lies in taking a fresh look, being willing to listen, and putting one’s self in the right environment so that noise, conflicts, and stress do not block things out.
All of this requires attention from both parties. The good news for us is that God is ready, able, and willing – 24×7.