Do you hear what I hear? Angels appear in the oddest of places with the most remarkable timing. People often ask me what is helpful in this cancer maze. I cannot explain why a person does something and I find it healing and precious. I just know that when I experience this, it is profound. I do think a piece of it is because the person does hear what I hear–they get where I am at. They do not try to fix it or offer empty words. They do not try to cheer me up. They simply listen. Then, having really heard me, they bring me comfort and sometimes great insight. That happened recently in the middle of an insane time of feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
Two years ago, I sent a private message to someone who had moved away to update him about my health situation. He had prayed quite powerfully over me before leaving and I knew that in his touch there had been power and healing. I also knew at that moment that something probably was seriously wrong with me that I should be experiencing such a sensation. If I had been well, that energy, for lack of a better word, would not have been necessary. I did not hear back from him because of the social media forum not alerting him to my message. Well, that forum did inform people of such unread messages eventually and lo and behold, I received a beautiful message from him this week, one that brought tears. He gets it, I thought. I felt heard. We were equally moved by our subsequent messages and emails, it seems.
The affirmation of my life choices now, the sadness of the reality, the mystery that is unfolding, and the openness to dialogue honesty was so appreciated. I know people do not always know what to say, but when a healing voice speaks to me I recognize it. A mutual sharing shifted the focus from me to us which was also a blessing. I want to learn this art of listening so that people can be heard by me too. Such a life-giving skill!
What do we hear when we listen to people in need? Can we share the pain without trying to make it better or minimize it? Do we share vulnerably about what we are hearing? Do we try to fix it? Are we uncomfortable with the conversation? Do we understand, really understand what the person needs at that moment before we open our mouth to speak? I have had many mind-blowing conversations with loved ones over these past two years. It is mind-boggling to think that in about eleven days, I received the news of a mass on my liver as 2014 ended and 2015 began. So much has happened to me since then on a variety of levels. No wonder I am exhausted! My precious little liver–that organ that some of you slowly poison with alcohol at this time of year–has regenerated and continues to sustain me. Such a miracle. I am here still because of a skilled medical team but I am here also because folks heard me when I said that the best thing they could do is pray. Pray they did. Here I remain.
Hear me when I say this: I am grateful for each one of you. Some of you always know the perfect thing to say. Others of you bowl me over with your wisdom and insights. You are the ones who go deep and risk greatly. A handful of you will always know how to make me laugh or bear with me when I weep. A few of you struggle with what to say and I know you try your best. It is ok that you are at a loss for words…some days I am too. A couple folks drive me crazy and make me want to hibernate. Whether you are sending thoughts face to face, via email, text, or handwritten mail, over the phone, or in a prayer, please know I hear you. I really do hear you and almost always, I know the sincerity of those messages because I am listening with my heart.
Do you really hear what the other person is hearing come out of their mouth?
What listening skill do you wish to use better in conversations?
Do you hear me? The words that come out of my heart, Lord? That pour from the depths of me? The groans that only the Spirit can comprehend? Yes, you do hear what I hear when I tell my story. Thank you for the grace of listening. Amen.