Friday, October 17, 2008

The Gift of Listening!

Listen, v. – To give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing; to pay attention; to make an effort to hear something; hear with intention

Hear, v. – To perceive by the ear; To learn by the ear; to give audience or attention to…

Interesting, they are both verbs, so they are active and require effort...and there's nothing about talking that's related to listening.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about listening and what a gift it is to the person it is offered to…

Adoption is one of those paradoxes…it seems two ways at the same time, a contradiction to itself…it is the one of the most wonderful things you could ever hope to experience and at the same time, it is one of the most exhausting, emotionally draining experiences you could ever have…and a listening ear, to a mom going through it, is the greatest gift you could offer!

Not that I don’t want advice sometimes…I do, and I ask for it. Like my friend who has adopted 4 older children…she has the experience to offer me advice, so I regularly turn to her. But she is also a very wise and discerning friend and sometimes she just lets me vent and simply offers an encouraging word…she is a great ‘cyber’ listener (we mostly communicate by e-mail)!

Last spring, I was bumping up against some parenting issues that I just didn’t know how to handle, even now, I realize there wasn’t an answer for them, but what I needed was a good listener. Thankfully, a friend of mine realized that! She has raised 2 children and last spring, she offered to meet me once a week for lunch…she just wanted to listen! At first, I had no clue what to do with that…someone who would sit across from me and NOT offer me fixes to my situation!

Now, I’m not saying I don’t have any other people in my life who listen to me, but this was a different kind of listening. With some people, when you’re telling them something, you can see the wheels turning, trying to think of what they’re going to say, instead of listening to what you’re saying.

You stop for a breath and they jump in with some story, that really has nothing to do with what you’re talking about, or some book you should read, or whatever…it’s very obvious that they’re just not listening.

But my friend just sat and listened…she prayed for me, she encouraged me and every once in a while, when it was clearly applicable, she would share stories with me, more to let me know that everyone struggles, than trying to give me answers…

Ok…so I realize that, in itself, that could sound selfish…but we all need someone who will listen to us sometime!

My husband is a great listener…he’s learned that I’m not looking for fixes, I just need to pour out my heart. Often times, just in the process of venting, I’ll find the answer, or the new perspective for myself…I’ll tell him thank you and he’ll just smile and say, “But I didn’t say anything!” Other times, he will ask great questions that lead me to a new place…but he has to be listening to know the questions to ask!

Here’s the thing, me included…I really think we just all want to make a difference for people…so we try and come up with something to say that will help someone in need…but maybe, the biggest difference we can make for someone is just to listen to them! It is a gift…I think I’ll go listen to my kids who’ll be coming through the door any minute now!

1 comment:

Jen said...


Thanks for your sweet comment about our Lucy. The kids seem to be doing better than me :( I've been meaning to tell you forever that your kiddos are just amazingly photogenic! Every single picture of them is just stunning! Hope you're doing well!