Live Simply: Listen More, Talk Less

Thursday Themes is an ongoing series of posts focused on given topics or passages of scripture relevant to adoption, knowing God, and learning to live simply and love radically. Please feel free to tweet theme suggestions to me @MamaMcAfee or leave a suggestion in the comments section.

In the Live Simply series, we're exploring what it means to live simply in every aspect of our lives. Living simply is a way of life that radically redefines how you see the world and how you interact with it. It's almost never easy, but always rewarding. And at the end of the day, those who choose to pursue simple, I believe, will be far better people for it and will know God in a much deeper way than when complex got in the way.

Living simply is about listening more and talking less.

I don't spend much time talking about politics anymore.

I guess I'm one of the disillusioned, ambivalent masses.

I'm not though. I do care. I care a great deal about politics. I just don't talk about it as much as I once did.

I don't talk about it as much because my worldview has continued to evolve--as I think all worldviews should--and my evolving worldview has left me in a somewhere in between place where I don't quite fit into a classic category. (Not that I ever really did.)

I don't talk about it as much because I can't stand the way we speak to each other about politics. I can't stand the pomp and the circumstance, the arrogance and the finger-pointing, the judgment and the game-playing.

I don't talk about it as much because quite frankly I think the impact I am making today, right here, in my every day is more important than grandstanding for a particular political perspective.

Don't misunderstand me, I'm still as opinionated as ever, and I can still go all soapbox on issues close to my heart. I'm not above telling you you're wrong, but I'm also not above hearing I'm wrong. Which, I think, is a good place to be.

This is one of the many places South Africa changed me. Dealing with a different government, a different political climate, a different political history, a different understanding of democracy--challenged a lot of my ideals and the way I look at politics here. I understand, know, pretend to understand and pretend to know a lot less these days than I did before South Africa. I can't tell you how to solve the US political conundrum, and I think it is a lot better for us all if I don't try.

What I do try to do these days is to spend a lot of time listening.

I spend a lot of time listening to people who have different perspectives than my own. I spend a lot of time listening to people who have different worldviews than my own. I spend a lot of time listening and praying and contemplating.

And listening and praying and contemplating is beginning to have, what I feel, is a positive affect.

I understand how someone can vote for the other guy/gal. I understand how someone can take that stance on that issue. I understand how my own viewpoint might be perceived as ignorant or judgmental or what have you.

I've also spent a lot less time listening to the political pundits. A lot less time listening to the news media. A lot less time listening to the candidates themselves. And I don't feel bad about it.

Maybe when it comes down to voting time, I'll be less informed. Maybe I'll make a less educated decision. But maybe I'll also have a few less talking heads in my ear and a quiter spirit enabled to hear what the Holy Spirit might be whispering to me.

One thing I grow more and more certain of, I'm pretty sure God doesn't need his man in the Whitehouse to accomplish his good will. I'm pretty sure God doesn't need me or you to stress out about which candidate to vote for and what terrible thing the other might do if elected. I'm pretty sure God doesn't need me on my soapbox telling you why you're wrong.

I'm certain no matter what happens in November, God will still be God the next day. He'll still be enacting His will. He'll still be watching out for the least of these. He'll still be guiding his Church to be his hands and feet and to know him more. He'll still be loving you and loving me no matter which box we checked or what chad we punched. I'm pretty sure God will still be God.

And this gives me comfort.

This reminds me I don't need to be on my soapbox today. I don't need to persuade you to vote how I vote or believe how I believe. I don't need to prove my candidate good. I don't need to prove your candidate bad. I don't need to exhort my beliefs at the cost of yours. I don't need to prove God to still be God and to still be doing all he says he's doing in the world.

I think the way of living simply--whether you're voting for a president or voting on a new policy at work or voting on line items in your family budget--is to listen more, talk less and truly try to understand the other person's perspective. You might just learn something about them and yourself in the process. You might be opened up to a whole new way of looking at the world you never knew existed. You might find yourself a little bit wiser at the end of the day.


Read other post in the Live Simply series:

An Introduction

Being Available

The Gray Spaces

Consume Less

Drop the Comparison

Practice Rest

Take It a Day at a Time