We took a walk last night, the kids and I. Around and through the neighborhood, enjoying the wonderful fall-like weather that has come upon us recently. On our first lap around the neighborhood, Warrior and Princess rode their bicycles, and wore their shades. For our second lap, however, both kids wanted to run, and that of course meant they, I mean we, would be walking a good deal too. Actually, we walked the entire lap. You see, Warrior has hurt his foot. It is not anything serious but nonetheless, he is unable to run until it heals. So, as Princess ran and skipped and danced ahead of us, Warrior and I walked and talked, and talked. He can talk your ear off; I think he gets it from his dad :)) hehe!! He told me all about the story he is writing. It is quite an adventure, and he can tell you all about it in absolute detail, from the color of the hero's eyes to the sound of the enemy's voice. Warrior has an amazing imagination, and I pray regularly that the Lord uses it to His glory.
As we were walking and he was talking, I was reminded of just how very important it is to have a listening ear. Many times my children just want to know that I have heard them; they just want me to listen. Even if they do not get their way after they have spoken their peace, they have peace in knowing that I have listened. For those few precious moments, my attention was centered upon them, and I was listening. I heard their story, and as a mom I want my kids to know that I listen to them.
In my marriage, sometimes the most healing and peace-making words I can say are, none at all. When I simply listen to my husband and truly hear his heart, our relationship is strengthened; my heart is drawn closer to his and his to mine. And believe me it works both ways. As we all know, outside stresses and frustrations can cause us to react in harsh ways to those we love. And our anger can have absolutely nothing to do with them, even though it may seem like it. A listening ear, and not a hasty word, can be a balm to the soul.
Even outside of our spouses and children, a listening ear can be invaluable in showing the love of Christ. We never know what the clerk at the store is going through. We don't know the waiter's life, his struggles, his burdens. We have no idea the trials and hardships faced by the person on the other end of the phone. They have a story too.
Our church has a ministry where people can come get clothes and food, free of charge. Hundreds of people from all walks of life, all income levels, all backgrounds, all social circles come to the church and dig through table after table of clothes in hopes of finding what they need. Many of them are poor, destitute, and broken. One of the things I have learned through serving with this ministry is that everyone has a story, and most of us just need someone to listen. We need to know someone hears us. To know that someone knows our joy or our pain. We all have a story.
And there is One who hears. There is One who knows my pain and my struggles. He knows my joys and hears my laughter. He hears my cries and holds my tears. He alone knows my heart, and loves me still.
Listen. Be grateful that we have a God that hears us and listens to us, and extend that same grace to someone else.
"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;" James 1:19