“I don’t need much,” she said.
Glancing at her registration form that each evacuee had to complete prior to shopping in this space that was once a Target store but now filled with donations, I saw we would be shopping for three. Two adults and a baby, yet she was alone.
“My girlfriend stayed with the baby. She’s the one I’m more shopping for. Her and the baby,” she explained.
“Okay,” I said, pushing the Home Depot cart that had been part of me for the last four hours, shopping with displaced families that had fled their homes due to forest fires raging in and around their home city of Fort McMurray. “I guess we can skip the men’s clothing section then. The women’s is just around the corner, and you can have three outfits, three pairs of socks, underwear…”
“That’s ok,” she says, cutting off my listings. “I can skip that stuff. Just really need the baby things for my friend and maybe some personal items.”
“I think you’ll be the fastest shopper I take through yet,” I said grinning at her. Then asked where she was staying.
And her story started. Another personal story of those moments of leaving a home, with only minutes to gather items, and then to be stuck in a grid lock of vehicles on a highway surrounded with flames just meters away, and engulfed in smoke. Lots and lots of smoke.
I was renting a basement suite, she tells me. The house burned. I have nothing left.
“But,” she continues, her thirty-something grey eyes glancing my way, “I see it as a fresh start. It’s time for a change. I’ve had quite the year.”
And, like the rest of the displaced families I shop with those seven hours, she shares more of her story, beyond the fire.
And I listen, understanding that is all that is needed at this moment.
Victims of a tragedy just needing to talk out their stories.
And I’m reminded that people don’t want to be fixed. They just want to be heard.
As a doer, a fixer, I tend to over step my boundaries and try to help another through suggestions, through advise of an action plan, or even humor. But really, is that for them or for me?
Is fixing to help alleviate my breaking heart for others?
Recently I found myself ‘fixing’ when in reflection I know the better response would have been to just say, “I’m sorry you are going through that. Is there anything I can do to help?”
Speaking later to my coach, he suggested that often when someone we are or have been highly invested in (like a child or even an old boyfriend/girlfriend) is hurting, it is more difficult to not take the stance of wanting to help, to fix.
So how do I become a better listener to all, even those I want to fix to alleviate my selfish desire of my own breaking heart?
With this question in mind, I googled bible verses about how to listen. Many, many verses came up. But many had a common thread.
‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ Jer 33:3
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14
He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28
Do you see the Thread?
To become a better listener is to call, approach, and hear the word of God first.
So how can I do this?
Through the way He provided us, to stay connected to Him before we are again in our true home-prayer.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live. Psalm 116:1-2
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19
Do you find yourself like me, trying to fix? Do you have a way that you stay connected to God moment by moment as you interact with other? Do you have a story where you saw God working just by you being His ears to another?
PS. I’ve been a bit silent here, I realize. I found myself burning out as I was leaning on my own strength again. As one who has burden-bearing tendencies I can take on the hurts of others, rather than let go and give them back to God. I’m a WIP (work-in-progress) and thank you for sharing in my journey with the hope it will encourage and inspire yours, as God-wills!