“Overjoyed” is my favorite Bastille song, and it’s because of the first few lines:
Oh, I feel overjoyed
When you listen to my words.
I see them sinking in.
Oh, I see them crawling underneath your skin.
Someone genuinely listening to me thrills me. I’m not always good at making timely comments in conversations or expressing thoughts the way I wish to, so when I do and someone hears me and is interested, it’s wonderful.
Because I appreciate it so much, I try to genuinely listen to other people. I’m certainly not perfect, but I want to be the person who notices when someone starts to say something and is cut off by the conversation or the person who will listen when someone wants to talk about how terrible or excellent their day was beyond the usual, “I’m fine.”
One phrase from the Bible known even by those who are not familiar with the Bible is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Or, in slightly more modern phrasing, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them” (Luke 6:31). I think this is something most people naturally want to do with those they care about. Being listened to makes me feel loved, so I want to listen to those I love so they’ll feel the same way. I have touchy-feely friends who give lots of hugs because they love receiving hugs.
Where this command becomes difficult is with people you don’t like. Listening to a person who annoys me is difficult. And who wants to hug their mortal enemy?
There’s a quote I really want to use here, but I cannot find it to give the exact wording or attribute it properly. It goes something like, “All the things God commands are difficult for us to do, or else he would not command, but endeavor to persuade.” As Jesus points out, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46). Even people who have no interest in Christianity do not need commanded to do nice things to those they love. What makes Christians different is that they (should) strive to treat people they do not naturally love the same way.
It’s not easy. But it is important.