This is a really great blog my wife wrote about listening, and I wanted to share it with you. So, with no further ado…
When was the last time you heard a story so compelling that it grabbed your attention and held your focus? You zoomed in on the speaker, all the world around you grew still, and you listened. You listened to every word. You were entranced.
When was the last time you shared a conversation with someone and caught a glimpse of what really makes us who we are: a glimpse of a heart and a soul? You put your phone away, in a pocket or a purse, and there was nothing between you, just a connection of words and minds and hearts and souls.
You listened. You listened, and you connected with another human being. Listening is an act of love. It is a gift; it is a skill. It is a purposeful act that conveys value, respect, and, again, love. It’s also something most of us don’t do enough.
I have the greatest job on the planet. I am a nurse. I often spend time with people at their worst, at their most vulnerable; and, I love it! All pretense is gone. I have the privilege of stepping into the story, and thus the life, of another. Sometimes in that story we get to celebrate, sometimes we cry, sometimes we are left in uncomfortable places… places with no answers and no clear path. But no matter where we end up, we end up there together, connecting at so many points along the way.
I totally get behind on my charting, which turns my 12 hour work day into a 14 hour one, but I wouldn’t change a thing. My life is so much richer. I learn so much from hearing how people have struggled well; how they have learned to be patient; how they have seen God–how they have seen Good–in times of despair.
One day recently in the infusion clinic, I took care of a patient with Multiple Sclerosis. To give you a little background, she and her brother both have MS; both have tried all the same medications with no improvement or slowing of the disease progression. Last year, they both began the same medication, one that is given when all else has failed. When I met her 10 months ago, she walked with a cane. Now she is wheelchair bound. Her brother is walking, holding his daughter. They have had complete opposite outcomes. That first time we met, she passed out while I was putting in her IV. Awesome. Last month though, she and I both managed to stay conscious. Woo hoo! She got her medicine, and… I got to hear her story.
Thirteen years ago, she woke up in the middle of the night not able to move the left side of her body. She was taken to the closest ER. After a bunch of prodding and poking, they told her that she probably has MS, there’s nothing anyone can do. She says that night MS picked her up and threw her off a balcony. She says she knows that eventually she’ll hit the cement. She can see it coming, but the decent is slow. This has afforded her the opportunity to make every day, every moment count. This has helped her to be thankful every day. And sharing in her story helped me to be thankful every day. The Bible says that my life is a vapor, too, here for a little while and then gone. In my little while, I want to do things that matter, to love well, to listen.
When I finally make it home at the end of the day, the kids are usually fast asleep and I am totally wiped out. Every once in a while though, my ten-year-old son will be awake, unable to fall asleep. I am tired, hungry, and already feeling the next day’s pressures creeping in on me, but I sit on the edge of his bed and I listen. I listen through the silliness and the facts about his day until he gets to the stuff that he has deeply buried.
“I pushed Dmitry.”
”Do you think I’m fat?”
“Is it my fault you can’t have more babies?”
These are precious moments. Moments that I almost always miss when I get caught up in the busy-ness of my house, my job, my yard, my schedule.
I encourage you the next time you find yourself on the receiving end of a story, stop whatever you are doing, put away your phone/iPad/whatever, and listen, really listen. Give the person sharing themselves with you a gift. You’ll probably receive one back.
Jenny and Todd Agnew