Prayer, Creativity & Faith

Review of Listen, Learn, Love by Susie Albert Miller


You guys are all probably tired of hearing me talk about my book (which, incidentally, releases in just three more days!). So I thought I’d try something dramatically different today… and talk about someone ELSE’s book! I know, I’m way out there. You should be used to my particular brand of crazy by now. But I hope you’ll keep reading anyway.

I’ll be honest. I struggled with this for a little bit, long before I gave the book a chance. I want to only give honest reviews, but since I have a book releasing soon (I may have mentioned that once or twice before), I also only wanted to be careful to only put positive words out there. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do that. This is not the type of book I normally pick up. I tend to avoid anything that is remotely categorized as self-help, anything written by life coaches or anyone else who might end up being overly enthusiastic.

Now that I say this out loud, I’m realizing how badly I actually need this kind of help. A life coach might be rather beneficial.

But also, in my defense, I have lots of really good relationships. My family is close. My kids talk to me about things. My husband and I are happy. My business relationships tend to last for many years and end on good terms. And I have lots of really amazing friends. I am blessed. So fortunate. So grateful.

But, as it turns out, there’s always more to learn. And sometimes, the way you least expect to find help ends up being the best source. As it also happens, there was some really good advice in this book.

In a nutshell, here’s the idea: We all have relationships that are in need of improvement, and since relationships are the foundation of our lives, working to improve them will improve life in a bunch of different ways. To achieve this result, we just need to follow three basic steps: Listen, learn, and love. Sounds easy, right?

Sure. Except for the fact that, while I like to think I’m a pretty good listener, I’ve finally admitted to myself that I probably turn the conversation around to myself way too often. I think that my reason for doing this is because I’ve had a similar experience and want to share it to show that I understand what the other person is feeling. And maybe that’s true. Or maybe I need to be a little more self-aware and take the focus away from myself. That’s how I can be a better listener.

Learn? No problem. I love to pay attention to what makes someone tick, to figure out what they love and need and try to provide that. I think I’m pretty good at that. It’s why I love to buy gifts for people—because I like to surprise them by letting them see how well I understand them. But then I read about how learning someone also means allowing them to grow and change. I want others to allow me to evolve, to become something new, refined, better. But it made me wonder how accepting I actually am of other people who are making changes in their lives?

OK, maybe I fall short in those areas sometimes. But love? That’s an easy one.

Perhaps. But to love well? Not always our first instinct. Because it’s based on the ideas of listening to the people in our relationships and learning them deeply. Loving them well “requires short-term sacrifice for long-term gain” (p.95). Like being a mom. That makes sense to me. But how do I do this in business? In friendships?

I guess all of it comes down to one idea. We must be willing to make a conscious choice to shift the focus away from ourselves. Improving relationships is about doing the hard things—denying yourself in order to truly listen, coming out of your own interests and self to learn about others, and sacrificing your preferences, time, and pride in order to help the people in your life feel seen, heard and known.

Sounds a lot like the foundations of the faith I try to practice, the ways I want to live. Sounds a lot like the stories I hear of Jesus. Come to think of it, Jesus was all about relationships. He sacrificed everything to make us able to draw close to Him. And just as He wants to know us, we can apply these same ideas to our spiritual lives and relationships, too. Listen to Him. Learn Him. And love Him.

How do we do that best? By loving others.

If you want some practical ideas of ways to implement these concepts into your relationships, click here to pre-order Susie Albert Miller’s Listen, Learn, Love. It comes out on May 12. And because I adore getting to know each other better and want to interact with you all as friends, would you take a moment to comment below? Tell me one tip, suggestion or thing that you do to be a better friend. Or tell me about a time someone showed you how much you meant to them in a new or surprising way.

I know how I would answer that second one right now: all of the Facebook messages people have posted about my book, the pictures of people holding my book, and the gushing, enthusiastic responses to what I’ve written that have been coming in the past two weeks. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to know people are taking my words to heart. You’re listening to what I had to say. Learning about me. And loving me in the nicest possible way. And the book’s not even fully out yet. You guys are amazing.

And see? There, once again, proof that I don’t have this thing down yet: I somehow managed to bring this whole post about being selfless and others-centered right back around to myself. Sigh.

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