40 Life Lessons I learned before age 40: #4 Learn to HEAR

Learn to Hear. Not just listen. Hear.

Guns and Roses were persona non-grata at my home growing up. Music was a huge controversy but pot-smoking, long-haired screamers wouldn’t have made the living room stereo. My brother forged a path for us with “Christian Rock and Roll.” I’ll give it to David and Phyllis Porter. They didn’t approve but they let us explore.  I laugh now at how tame some of that stuff seems.

School was a different matter. Heavy metal bands ruled the airwaves, big Boom Boxes were carried on shoulders on sports trips and the louder, edgier and vulgar it was, the better.

I’ve got a confession. I was a bit, ok, more than a bit, of a little legalist (Christian who thinks they are better than anyone else because they don’t do bad things). I loved God and wanted nothing to do with any of that. Sports trips often saw movies played on the bus monitors that forced me to bow my head and turn away, often to be mocked by my classmates. Each time I would put this little spiritual star on my invisible vest for being better than “them.”

I remember when it happened. I was 16 I believe, on a trip somewhere in Belgium or the Netherlands. Gun’s and Roses was blaring on the bus speakers, the classic remake of “Knocking on heaven’s door.” The curtain on our tour bus was drawn, my head window-side, blocking off the misery that was my alienation from everyone else on that vehicle, cheek pressed against the cold glass as farm fields slid by.

And then I heard.

For the first time, I heard, past the screaming, past the images and the things of which I didn’t approve, I heard the cry of a soul, of multiple souls, “Knocking on heaven’s door.” Guns and Roses were no longer a band playing unapproved music, but souls screaming with my entire bus at the doorway to heaven, and with no answers about how to get in.

If you listen, you’ll hear. Not what people are saying. But the feelings, the emotions behind. Listen carefully, and you might even hear the cry of a hurting lost soul. And perhaps, just perhaps, your heart will change like that 16 year old boy who went from legalistically inspired self-righteous indignation to heart wrenching love for the voices he could no longer get out of his head.

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