Can God speak to us through others? Yes! Actually, an important part of listening to God is recognizing that sometimes God will speak or invite us through other people. As human beings, we are called to share life together in our family. But we also have other communities that we are part of: our circle of friends, school, work, and other groups of people we hang out with. Our parish as our faith-community is especially important.
We really do not know ourselves well nor mature fully until we experience ourselves as part of a community.
Others challenge us to give fully of ourselves. Without being stretched by others’ needs and demands, we cannot know our true strengths. And we do not truly know our weaknesses until we rub elbows with the people in our lives who push us to our limits and sometimes beyond. Our ego—with our false sense of ourselves—often blinds us to our greatest gifts and our greatest weaknesses. But others can see us clearly, without the blind spots.
I can think of a time when I fooled myself into thinking I was a pretty patient person…but then I found myself in a very irritating situation—and I suddenly discovered that I was not patient at all, it’s just that I hadn’t encountered a situation where my patience had really been tested. Living and working closely with others is one of the best ways to help us to get to know ourselves.
God often helps us to see and understand ourselves and our situation better by speaking through others—friends, co-workers, enemies, bosses, and acquaintances. Sometimes just a random comment from someone who doesn’t like us very much can help us to understand something about ourselves: how we come across, something we are particularly good or bad at, etc. If we are open, sometimes we will discover that God is speaking to us or inviting us through our conversation with someone.
When we are discerning, it can be really helpful to sort things out with someone we trust: a family member, friend, a mentor, or someone in our faith community.