Saturday, July 9, 2016

Just Listen

A few years ago, I found myself at an impasse with a dear friend.  Neither of us saw a way to save our relationship.  As we started trying to figure out why we had such deep feelings of resentment and anger toward each other, it got even uglier.

One morning, I woke up with a heavier heart than normal.  I realized that I had been feeling so "justified" in my anger toward her for so long that I never really stopped to listen to what she was saying to me about her resentment.  I thought I was listening.  But I was really just waiting for her to finish so I could rebuttal or bring up another injustice or condemn. 


Like all the times before.

And the heaviness of not having her in my life anymore was too hard to bear.  So I went to her and apologized. 

Now when I say, "apologized" let me explain. 

I thought I had apologized in the past.  In fact, I felt like I had done that every time we talked.  But, as much as I thought I had, I had never really owned the fact that I didn't listen. I apologized for mean words I had said.  I apologized for some uncalled for actions.  I even apologized for perceived misdoings. 

But I didn't apologize for not listening.  Oh, I HEARD her.  But I didn't LISTEN.

I have felt that same heaviness as I contemplate the events of the last week in our country.  I wonder if that's our same problem.  We THINK we understand the issues.  We SAY we want to do different.  We TALK about all of the symptoms. 

But do we HEAR or do we LISTEN?

And here's another issue.  I believe real listening is active.  We can't just go back to our lives when we truly listen to a person's fears.  We may not understand them, but if we listen to them, we are at the very least--aware. 

It's been said before, but bears repeating.  Yes, we have a racism issue in our country.  But instead of trying to fix things on the world level, what if we all looked at the relationships in our lives and asked ourselves to LISTEN to them the next time they spoke instead of just hearing them. What if we just made things right with those closest to us?

For me, that's my husband.  And daughters.  And co-workers.  And friends. 

I can tell you right now that there are a few that I have closed myself off to because I don't want to listen to their side of things.  And worse than closing myself off? 

I have done that on purpose. And have been unwilling to take the step to listen because then I would have to forgive and I like feeling superior.

I wish I could say I'm moved to call that person and have a conversation.  But I'm not yet. 

And so, I am part of the problem our country is facing right now. 

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