Recently, I found myself sitting across the table from an old friend at a wedding. We hadn’t seen each other in years.
June (not her real name) is in her early 60s and looks like she’s 50 years old.
She has a good job. Great kids. Several grandchildren. Lovely home. And a husband who seems to be a really nice guy.
To me, June looks like she has the perfect life. I’m sure everyone around me thought so too.
But as the evening wore on and the table became empty, she scooted over and poured out the rest of her story.
It wasn’t pretty
Retirement isn’t an option any time soon as June and her husband made some costly financial mistakes over the years.
Her kids all have busy lives, and she often doesn’t see or hear from them for weeks.
One son is an addict, and she’s been bailing him out of trouble for years.
Her husband battles depression and doesn’t like to socialize, so she’s left to attend social events without him … or sit at home with someone who doesn’t want to do anything but watch TV.
She confesses that she feels like half a person most of the time.
Somewhere in the raising of her family and in the working to help provide a nice lifestyle, June’s lost her identity.
She misses her old self. The one that knew how to laugh, go on adventures, and how to be nurtured by her husband and girlfriends.
In fact, she wonders where all of her girlfriends have gone. There are so few of them in her life now.
And her relationship with the Lord is stale. Dry. Like she’s been wandering in the desert for many seasons.
I didn’t know what to say
So I just sat there.
I know. Shock. Susan not knowing what to say? It happens.
You’ve been there. You don’t have a clue what to say sometimes either.
I wasn’t sure if I should burst into tears, give her a warm embrace, or pray with her.
So I didn’t do anything. I just sat and listened.
I listened a lot. Sometimes I’d grunt, or say something like, “You’ve got to be kidding! Really? Then what happened?”
Two hours later, she gave me a big hug as she stood to leave.
“Thanks so much for spending your evening with me and listening. You don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve had someone just listen. I feel so much better.”
And with that, she was gone
Now, don’t get me wrong. As she’d been talking I did think of a few “wise bits of counsel” I could give her, but to be honest, I was tired. It had been a long week. So I took the easy route and just listened. For. Two. Hours!
And surprise, surprise … that was all the Holy Spirit wanted me to do. Be a listener.
June’s problems weren’t solved. I guess they weren’t supposed to be solved that night. But she left feeling encouraged and hopeful.
And all I did was listen and grunt out a few words here and there.
My simple thought for you this week is to find someone who needs you to listen to them pour out their woes.
This doesn’t take much skill or thought. You don’t have to know exactly what to say.
Just sit there. Listen. Grunt now and then, and respond with, “You’ve got to be kidding! Really? Then what happened?”
Then listen some more.
Easy peasy, right? Anyone can do that!
And, believe it or not, you’ll be making Jesus bigger inside someone just by listening to them share their troubles.
And in the process you’ll be building your own legacy of faith.
Now, go find someone to listen to. It’s important.
Catch you next week,
Oh, you’d like to hear more? Check out:
How Active Listening’ Makes Both Participants In a Conversation Feel Better from The Wall Street Journal