Dear Daughters,

    Listening is difficult. Many people love to talk, comment, and opine. Few people know how to truly listen. As a loud extrovert, I am not particularly good at listening; however, I am striving to be better at listening to others.

    Being a pastor has helped me to become a better listener. (Perhaps only your mother has been more influential in my development as a listener). People often come to my office and want to talk about what is burdening their hearts and minds. All they want me to do is listen to their burdens and pray with them. However, sometimes people come in to my office and want me to listen to their opinions and suggestions. They say something like, “You know what our congregation needs to do?” I welcome these interactions. And I do my best to listen well.

    Still, in life and in ministry, I have learned the value of listening to the right people. Listening to the wrong people can be catastrophic: They give bad advice, share hurtful opinions, and guide me in the wrong direction. Listening to the right people makes all the difference: They have keen perception, helpful words, and wisdom to share. One of the most important skills you can develop is learning how to listen to the right people.

    Listen to God. Before you listen to anyone else, listen to God: “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance . . . The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:5,7) God invites you to listen to Jesus: “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” (Luke 9:35) And Scripture recounts Godly women who knew the value in listening to Jesus: “And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.” (Luke 10:39)

    My precious daughters, if you are going to listen to only one person, then listen to God. Hear what He says to you: “You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.” (Song of Solomon 4:7) In Christ Jesus, you are altogether beautiful and flawless. Clothed in the righteousness of Christ, you are altogether perfect, spotless, and radiant. Listen to God. Know that you are altogether beautiful. Be confident in the perfect beauty that you have in Christ Jesus.

    If your hearts and ears are listening to God, then you will be deaf to the hurtful and harmful words of others. You will not hear the siren call of “beauty” magazines telling you that you’re just a few pounds away from being altogether beautiful. You will not hear the destructive words of other people telling you that you’re too big, too small, too smart, too slow, too quirky, or too you. And you will not hear your own self-doubt telling you that you are unlovable, unbeautiful, or unimportant. Listen to the right people; ignore the words of the wrong people. This might even mean that you must ignore your own words sometimes so that you can hear God’s words.

    Daughters, you are altogether beautiful. God has made you altogether beautiful in Christ Jesus. Because you are a baptized child of God, He looks at you and sees a woman who is flawless and perfect.

    God and I agree on many things. This is one of them.

    Love,

    Dad

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