Listening May 20, 2024


(From our new book, Evolving From Religious Trauma. June 4th)

Listen to this blog – AI-Generated

Several years ago, we started a group called The Desert Sanctuary. We wanted it to be a home for spiritual nomads questioning their faith, struggling with their spirituality, or taking a break from organized religion. Eventually, it also included a blog and a podcast, and we started writing books. Being in the desert does not mean we are desperate, but it refers to how it sometimes feels.

Currently, there are 315 blogs and over 330 episodes of our podcast. Our following is modest by some standards, but we enjoy every minute of it. One reason is that we get to listen to people’s sacred stories about their experiences in religion and their stories of trauma.

Some people seem surprised when we tell them it is common to experience intimacy when listening to someone’s story for 45 minutes. Often, we start a conversation as acquaintances and end it as friends. I shared this insight with Seth Price, the host of the Can I Say This at Church podcast. I asked him, “Do you experience intimacy on your podcast when you listen to people’s stories?” He said, “If you’re doing it right.” Last year, I commented on my Facebook page.

“Instead of listening to so many sermons,

 we should have been listening to each other.” 

The response was great, and the reactions were varied. Some people could not understand that I criticized one of their practices. Others seemed to realize that one of our greatest struggles is genuinely listening to each other. I blame part of this on how we do religion and faith, but we will discuss this later.

Many ask what we should do to right this ship of Western religion, which is on a direct course to ineffectiveness and irrelevancePlease understand that most days, I have doubts that it can be rescued because it has deep, systemic issues that hinder transformation.

But humans can still improve and make a difference in our world, even without the church. Listening is a beautiful place to start. As you will see, deep listening is part of growth, understanding, and healing in this manuscript. After learning to listen better, I noticed one day that I was genuinely listening to Laura, and she realized it at about the same time. I have never felt better in 34 years of marriage than I did at that moment.

Sometimes, on the podcast or when we are doing a focusing session with someone, we will start to feel what they are feeling. These kinds of things can be emotionally draining and uncomfortable, but when we are present with someone and when they are present with themselves, the chance for healing goes up exponentially. Be where you are, Be who you are, Karl Forehand 

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Karl Forehand is a former pastor, podcaster, and award-winning author. His books include Out into the Desert, Leaning Forward,  Apparent Faith: What Fatherhood Taught Me About the Father’s Heart, The Tea Shop and Being: A Journey Toward Presence and Authenticity.  He is the creator of The Desert Sanctuary podcast and community.  He is married to his wife Laura of 35 years and has one dog named Winston.  His three children are grown and are beginning to multiply! You can read more about the author here.

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