A Rare and Precious Gift


Nothing is more personal or intimate than listening.” Matt Knisely, Framing Faith

A couple of years ago, my spunky, speaks-her-mind, mother-in-law sat at one end of our kitchen island talking football when our middle daughter and her friend walked in. Anna hugged her grandmother and introduced her friend, Anthony, a high school football wide receiver.

They all chatted for a few minutes then Anthony turned to greet our youngest daughter, and my spunky mother-in-law blurted, “Anthony, you’re not listening to me!

Oh! Sorry!” he stammered, blushed, and immediately turned back.


Laughter erupted from all corners of the kitchen. Anthony had officially been introduced to my vibrant, redheaded, mother-in-law, who, though she’d spoken in jest to Anthony, had also voiced the often unspoken words of our own hearts.

Our longing to be heard.

To be loved. Right where we are. Right in the messy midst. Without masks. Nothing retouched or colored or smoothed or erased or tweaked.

Naked and unashamed.

Like Adam and Eve in the garden before the Fall with nothing between them but love. No fear or guilt. No anger or frustration. Nothing lurking in the shadows. No unspoken longing. No skeletons in the closet.

Two souls, pure and holy and sinless. In full communion with each other and with God.

As we were created to be. One. To the very marrow of our bones.

“…the LORD God formed the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman….” Genesis 2:22

Bone of Adam’s bone all the way to the marrow.

But one bite forever altered that. Now it’s risky to reveal our imperfections, to let the wrinkles show, to divulge our unkempt edges. For love is messy. Sin has muddied the waters, shrouded the truth, and shadowed our vision of God.

It’s swung wide the door of loneliness and isolation.

Today we long to be heard. Beyond the distractions. Beyond the noise of a thousand thoughts careening in our brains. Beyond the crush of endless to-do lists and frenetic schedules.

Matt Knisely says it so well in his book, Framing Faith: “We’ve forgotten that listening is our conscious contextual navigation system. Rather we’ve become unconsciously aware. We check out. Disconnect. Get preoccupied…. Distracted by the subtle…. Distracted by our commitments…. Distracted by fear…. Distractions rob us of hearing the voices around us, and the Voice within us.

Listening is a rare and precious gift. A gift that shares burdens and carries mats. A gift that locks arms and links heart across time and space, abolishing boundaries and raining grace.

We long to be heard. To be known. To be loved. Soul deep. We long for the rhythm and cadence and timbre of our words, our lives, our stories, to be heard. To matter.


This week, Matt Knisely, author and award-winning photojournalist, is giving away a copy of his new book, Framing Faith, to one of YOU.

To win Matt’s incredible book, just share in the comments an observation, an image, or a story you discovered by pausing to listen.

A moment when the light streamed in and eternity shone through. A moment where the clamor stilled and the still, small Voice spoke.


3 thoughts on “A Rare and Precious Gift

  1. Tony

    Patience…A constant reminder to myself when tensions raise and yet another unexpected piece of bad news comes knocking at the door. Just adding to the already heavy demand on my wife’s, now very brittle and failing shoulders that have already been carrying a heavy burden for too many years to count and now are close to breaking or being crushed to the point of what feels like no return. “God has a plan and is using this for good”, I say, because I truly believe this, but also knowing that these words have just fallen on deaf ears and likely had the opposite effect. I can’t possibly relate because I’ve not been on this journey other than observing from the passenger seat. Patience, once again I tell myself. It could be me but God has different plans for me. Don’t judge He say, just love. Love unconditionally like Jesus. He is the example I sent so you would know. She needs you, He says. But not the you who judges and expects others to be like you but the you who says it’s ok, it’ll be alright because that’s all she wants to hear right now…Patience my son!


  2. Laurie Shawger

    I just finished Reading ‘Framing Faith’ and was reminded again of the importance of listening, even after having recently read your blog. “There are always stories we don’t see hidden beneath the story we do see.” How true that is and how that makes me wonder what the quality of my listening is at any given moment…how those distractions Knisely mentions block my perception of how receptive I am to Gd’s voice….Another statement that resonated with me was one of Knisely’s observations about his own perceptions, “I hadn’t really been searching for guidance as much as looking for proof…” That can be a confusing road. The more tangled we become in our distractions, the less clear we are about God’s direction.


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