A Work In Progress-Learning to just listen

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“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?

God.

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?

Love,

Lynn

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!

 

 

 

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24 thoughts on “A Work In Progress-Learning to just listen

  1. I love this Lynn and it comes at a good time with having a teenager ready to graduate and launch into the world soon — with lots of decisions about travel, college, and overall teen issues..of course he doesn’t want my opinion,so I’m learning to just listen, and it’s hard a s a mom! But one of my favorite verses is ‘be quick to listen, and slow to speak”. As a mother, I find when I do this I realize my son has the ability to work things through without me, that he is wiser than I thought, and has some amazing insights on issues I’d never have thought about..by listening, I become a student with my own child..and I have no doubt this happens across the board. And with the victims of the fire, by your learning to listen, you give them the ability to unleash the pain, grief and loss into loving arms to hold. What a great lesson! I will surely be thinking about this in all my interactions. And bless you for being there for these people who had to flee homes, and who lost much. I just loved this today!

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    1. “I become a student with my own child…” A very insightful reflection, Kathy. And love how you mentioned your son is wiser than you thought. Wisdom comes from experience so I am sure you have provided experiences for him to be the wise one he is becoming. Have a blessed day!

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  2. Thanks for this post, Lynn. I too am a fixer, but it rarely works! Just being there for someone is the best way we can love them. I’m glad you were able to help that young mom and others after the fire.

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    1. Hi Jen! As a tendency toward nurturing, we can be fixers by default and takes almost more effort to just listen. And so true, that ‘fixing’ rarely works. Always a blessing to read your words here!

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  3. This story was just heart-wrenching, like many of the stories are but such a great reminder to LISTEN. God always listens to us, isn’t that what we like about Him best? We can pour our hearts out and He listens and loves us! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  4. Well, my dear-work-in-progress friend, I hear you. Aren’t we all on our way to being who God’s shaped us to be?! I know no one who’s arrived yet.

    What a story. Thank you for enlarging our borders, introducing us to those we may not have had the honor of meeting.

    And yes, yes, to listening well. How weary we get if we can’t stop our endless fixing / saving / rescuing. Praise God He’s has done that through Jesus Christ.

    Meanwhile, Adam McHugh’s new book THE LISTENING LIFE is fabulous. Probably the best book I’ve read in ’16. Super stuff.

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  5. Oh, tell me my longwinded comment about the exhaustion of rescuing / fixing / saving didn’t get lost!

    And my recommendation of Adam McHugh’s new book, THE LISTENING LIFE which is so fabulous.

    And my thanks for enlarging our borders by introducing us to those we might not otherwise had the honor of meeting, Lynn …

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  6. Thanks for sharing that you are a Work In Progress. Aren’t we all? Learning to listen was a big lesson when I had teenagers. I spent most of those years biting my tongue – literally. Sometimes it still helps to bite my tongue when I would rather “say my piece.” 🙂

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    1. I understand this holding back, Joy! My tongue almost feels physically sore when I ‘bite it’, holding back words I really want to say. And then time tells it was best left unsaid. Yes, WIP can be used in more than just our unfinished writing pieces. Thanks for your comment. Always a blessing to see you visited here!

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  7. This is so good. I’m right alongside you as that work in progress. I’m a recovering “fixer” too…I’m still learning to listen well. I now often pray before heading out to be with those I visit/minister to, asking God to help me listen and give me wisdom in the words I do use…The times I’ve done that I have found myself keeping a lot more quiet and seeing the other person open up and release a lot of what’s inside them. I know I need to be more consistent in praying beforehand…also or perhaps especially in my own home.

    Love the Scriptures and insight you share about our focus needing to be on God…then those prayers of mine make sense…God teaching me to come to Him first.

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    1. I see your heart in your writing Anna, for people that are hurting and just need to talk, to share their burdens. May God continue to see you through all those you minister too, keeping your heart soft to them yet strong and joyful too.

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      1. Thank you, Lynn. I see that heart in you too: God’s compassion for the hurting souls. It’s always so refreshing coming here to read your words.

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  8. Thank you for sharing this, Lynn. It must be so heartbreaking to see and hear of the plight of all these displaced people. It’s so wonderful that God is using you to be the listener they need. I have the problem, too, of letting the burdens of others weigh me down instead of giving them back to God. God be with you and give you strength! Hugs!

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  9. “I’m reminded that people don’t want to be fixed. They just want to be heard.” <– I needed to be reminded of this and of the fact that God so willingly listens.

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  10. You’re right on target, Lynn. Fixers have good intentions, but sometimes it sends the wrong message to the fixee. At a time when they need encouragement and a confidence boost, the actions/words can seem like we’re saying they’re helpless. Thank you for the eloquent reminder to listen before offering a plan.

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    1. So true Susan! I don’t like being told what to do so why would I do that to another? Yes, important to lay my own ego aside and let God work. Thanks for your words and wisdom.

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  11. I am a known fixer. I blame it on being a mom and that’s what moms do, right? Now that my sons are adults I have to hold myself back from trying to fix every situation that they bring to me and instead listen. They will let me know if they need more. It is hard for me and I readily admit that my “go to” action is to try and fix it. I love how God is the common thread throughout. Turning to Him will provide the balance we need between fixing and listening. I always love your words. Thank you and Happy Sunday!

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  12. I especially like the line “people want to be heard.” Oftentimes I underestimate the power of allowing others just to talk and listening as an act of love. I continue to learn in my journey of faith that I can’t figure out the most simplest things sometimes so it’s better to ask God about every detail. He goes with me as I shop, as I write, whenever questions pop up about anything–I am now asking Him how to handle it. It’s very adventurous this way!

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