Nearly a decade and a half ago, I called a childhood friend I’d grown up with to let her know of my Dad’s passing. Immediately upon answering the phone, she began talking. She told me about her children, about her career, about her home, and about herself. There were no opportunities for me to jump in and tell her my father had just died. I thought she’d want to know. Then suddenly she had to hang up. Her life was a busy one, and she was no longer able to talk. Or listen. Although I’m sure by now she knows, I never did get to actually tell her myself.
This happens a lot, doesn’t it? Say good morning to someone and they return the greeting with a grunt? Or you ask them how they are and they answer, but never ask how you’re doing? Sometimes, on my more feisty mornings, I want to respond, “I’m fine too. Thanks for asking.” But I don’t.
How about those conversations where the person you’re engaged with is constantly looking at their phone and texting? Sometimes, I’m tempted to say something totally absurd just to see how they respond, and find out just how closely they are paying attention to me – if they have any interest at all in what I am saying. Or, any interest in me.
I also have a friend who is a lot wiser than I am. She’s got more miles on her feet and more laps around the block. She doesn’t realize it, but I watch as she intently listens to others. She remembers them and she prays for them by name. She encourages them. She even cries for them. I’ve never met anyone like her.
I’ve heard it said we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. I’m glad she’s in my five. And do you know what she’s taught me without saying even a word? When you’re with those who like to do all the talking, and haven’t learned yet how to listen – you just smile, remember their name, and you pray for them.
Some friends and family will never have an interest to know what’s happening in your world, what your heartaches are, what your friends’ names are, what you do in your spare time, or what’s troubling you these days, or even what you did today. Sometimes, people will only tell you all about themselves. That’s okay. Just remember their names. Listen to them. And pray.
Speak in such a way
that others love to listen to you.
Listen in such a way
that others love to speak to you.