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
12 thoughts on “Listening by Jenny Agnew”
Well said and so very true. Thank you for sharing this important reminder.
Jenny this is so true, thanks for sharing.
My daughter is much like your son, she owns everything and she needs to digest it, possibly be sad about it but more than anything she needs to get it out and talk about it. I used to be so drained I would hurry her, I just needed sleep. I quickly learned I was failing her and how much she valued my time and my words.
I’ve learned the privilege of children at home is short before they grow wings. I’ve learned I will put my world on hold to just hear my oldest sons voice and I will move mountains to see his face. I rejoice in the times he thinks I am the best person to talk to or get advise from. I’ve learned putting my cell phone on silent at night could mean when he reaches out, when something is heavy on his heart, I will have made a decision that I am more important them him. I’ve learned sleep is far less valuable then my little girls heart and soul being at rest.
I’ve further learned to stop what I think is the most important task and listen to the people in my life and the people just passing through. The time I share in just listening and talking about what I heard them say gives my soul more joy than most things. We all want to be loved. Sometimes love is as simple as slowing down long enough to listen and let someone know they are valued and they are important. Sometimes knowing they picked me or God picked me at that moment makes me feel loved.
Excellent advice! Everyone wants to be heard and deeply known. Kahil Gibran said, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”
I love that quality about Jesus. He took time to look into people’s eyes and listen to their hearts. Even when the lady in the crowd touched him and was immediately healed, he stopped and took time to talk with her.
Great job, Jenny!
Well said !! I painted ‘I love your story, I want another chapter…’ on my living room wall as a truth and a reminder to stop, invest, pour into others and listen.
Actively listening to other people is one of the
most effective ways of adding value to their lives. “People understand that being really present
in listening to them is a gift of your life energy and an ultimate expression
of respect and care” (Hamilton, 2006).
Jenny is right, we should be present with others when they’re speaking to us, and we should actively listen to them. Listening makes the world a better place for relationships, and our relationships are the most important things in our lives.
Blessings to both of you!! Tess
That was a most excellent post. I have cancer a I’ve learned that our days are really very few and taking time with our family’s and individuals is one of the most important things we do while on this earth. This is a place where we can truly serve God and listen and respond in a Godlike manner. Though we may not always do it perfectly the point is that we try and serve these that we come into contact with as best we can as Christ would have us do.
The place where you work is a blessing to those that need what you do for them although all may not act like it. I thank God for the nurses where I get my infusions they are wonderful people with a giving heart. I pray that God will give you strength in that place.
This is a great reminder, my 13 years old daughter told me just recently that I never listen. This will change because I dont want to miss out on a thing she has to say.
I’m a nurse also, and I am often humbled by the incredible trust God has shown in me by allowing me to be with patients and their family members during their illnesses. I work ICU so I know every day when I walk into work that the chances are I’m going to be dealing with an end of life situation or, at the very least, a serious illness during my shift. I consider listening to be one of the most important aspects of my job, whether it’s listening to a patient’s fears or regrets over the way they chose to live their lives, or listening to family members express their fears and hopes for their loved ones.
I am blessed to work in a Christ centered facility and I am often able to share Jesus with patients in their final days. I recently told a co-worker that I feel God has been showing me how we stand between these patients and eternity and how we are often the last chance they have to accept Jesus before they step into eternity. I’ve found if I just take a few extra minutes and hold a patient’s hand or just listen to them, they often reach out searching for God. If I hadn’t taken the time to listen, I would have missed their fragile attempt at asking someone to share Jesus with them.
Beautiful and so true…Humbled to have been given the opportunity as a nurse to be there then am reminded I have got so busy that as a mum I have forgottrn how precious every moment can be
Wow. To answer the first question, the last time someones story totally entranced me was last night at your husband’s show with Jason Gray.
I fought so hard not to go, but God really wanted me there. “It’s too late, the show probably already started” the clock said 6:30. I got dressed and showed up with 10 minutes until show time. I was going to buy a ticket at the door, but was blessed when a woman asked if I had one and just gave it to me. I left there feeling so encouraged and refreshed. I didn’t know how much I really needed that.
Their perspectives of stories, the intimacy of the accousitc small space…the weirdness of most people not interracting or worshiping…the sweetness of Todd and Jason being vulnerable with strangers by sharing how they grew in their relationship with God. I can’t put into words the impact of the stories shared on stage. I had been feeling like the only one in town (aside from my pastor and a few at church) who felt the same way regarding the truth about relationship, who we are and were created to be. I loved it, every minute of it!
I work at the hospital and am not an RN. I am a secretary/admin assistant in critical care. I have a very high respect for nurses, thank you so much for what you do. I have found that I am often a help to family members, care partners (that’s what we call our employees), and friends by being present, a good listener. As a single parent, it is the best gift I can afford. Sometimes it can be overwhleming when I have a huge list of deadlines, but it is my absolute favorite part of my job. I believe God multiplies my time when I do listen. Sometimes someone needs a safe place to go, to be heard.
I live with my mom who just turned 85 in August. I am 50. I am ashamed when I do not slow down and stop to listen to her because I have something I “must” do and am in a hurry. I am so blessed when I do take the time to stop and patiently wait as she gets her thoughts together. She struggles sometimes to get her thoughts across effectively. Simple conversations can be exhausting to both of us. She truly appreciates it when I give her my time and am patient and listen carefully.
My mom joined my sister and I when we attended Todd & Jason’s concert in Bethalto IL on Nov 10th. It was truly a blessing. God was exalted and it will be one of many treasured memories I have of my mom & sister.
Last night while packing Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes my mom revealed a hurt that she has held onto for over 30 years and never told anyone. I attend Celebrate Recovery and my sister works in Celebration Station for the K-6th grade. Mom has declined our invitations to attend CR. Even so, God is working on her heart! I believe Todd & Jason sharing their hearts and my sister & I sharing our hearts have impacted her.
Jenny, thank you for your post and being available to be used by God. Thank you for supporting your husband in his ministry. He is changing lives in Austin and around the country. You are ministering to those when they are in their lowest places due to illness and that is close to the heart of our Father. Bless you both!