Know the magic bullet in connecting?

Over the weekend, a good friend texted me one morning with the news of a tragedy that happened to her good friend. Her request? “What can I tell her, how can I help her?”
I went into action, looking up resources, texting or calling friends who had experience in this particular arena, and sent the information as soon as possible.
Thankfully, I happened to have a scheduled neighbor visit that same morning. As I spoke with this neighbor, I suddenly remembered that she had some experience in this tragic aremotherhood-300x200na. Come to find out she had been involved in hotlines and other crisis management for just this problem. After asking for any advice, I was floored by the very simple but spot-on counsel she gave.
That was the first, last and in-between best advice. She followed up that sure, resources are wonderful, but not until the person is ready. And not until the person feels heard.
Quickly, I texted my friend in time to be helpful. But I’ve thought of that advice all weekend. How often am I, are we, truly listening to other people? Life is busy and time is precious. Listening to others, especially if the subject matter isn’t that interesting or pressing, can be a difficult thing (think EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of the zoo field trip, going on 45 minutes—the details, not the trip…)
Listening is an incredible gift. It’s free, it’s doable, it’s in infinite supply if we choose it. And for the recipient, it may just be the lifeline they need.
One of my favorite speakers, authors, and human beings was Leo Buscaglia who shared this thought. “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
For a spouse, a friend, a teenager, and most especially the annoying person who doesn’t seem to understand that people have more to do than sit still and, what, actually look into someone’s eyeballs for 10 minutes, carve the space for listening.
That said, you don’t have to sit forever—your child does need to be picked up from dance. However, you can listen for the time you do have, let that person know you appreciate their sharing and that it’s been meaningful, and that you will keep a prayer in your heart for them. Then move forward to what is required of you, but knowing you’ve given that gift. Because you took the time to truly see and hear another human being, I’m betting you will feel more joy, peace, and fulfillment in whatever needs you next.
I’m grateful my good friend trusted me with this request for help. Since then, I’ve looked into my toddler’s eyes more often and listened more acutely to his imagination stories and monster truck explanations. I’ve watched for signs that my spouse needs a love or my teenager needs me to stroke her hair. And I’ve listened to my own body and soul more clearly, allowing myself to nap when needed and go to Zumba when it calls to me.
Just for today, listen a little longer, a little more closely, a little bit more purposefully. And enjoy the soul-fill that comes with it.

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