Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Listen and Let Listen

Did you know that women typically speak about 13,000 words a day more than men?  Did you also know that sharing and bonding with friends can improve your health?  So if chatting and sharing tidbits should be a normal female thing to do, then why is it that I get so nervous to write about whatever it is I’m going through?  Is it because it’s in writing and on the Internet?  Is it because I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer?  Is it because I want to portray a more beautiful life than what is my reality?

Yup.  A little of all of that.

But more importantly, it’s because I don’t want to complain about my problems and then get dismissed by my readers who are struggling with so much worse.  I feel like writing about our small crosses could be a slap in the face to someone suffering from a bigger or more difficult cross.

If I say that multiple pregnancies are hard, some could say that infertility is worse.  Dismissed.

If I mention that my baby was up all night with a cold, some could say I’m lucky it’s only a cold.  Dismissed.

If I write about how many hours I spend cooking and cleaning, some could tell me they wish they had a house to clean and money for groceries.  Dismissed.


We have all been on the receiving side of this, right?  But probably dismissed a few people’s problems ourselves too…

To the first time mom who is struggling with her baby – “Just wait until you have SIX kids to care for!”

To the neighbor that can’t decide where to go for vacation – “Must be nice!”

To the skinny friend who’s trying to gain weight – “I wish I had your problem!”

I've both ignored people with seemingly lesser problems than me, and also been ignored by others who are in tougher situations than I.  It’s a terrible thing to do, really.  All someone wants is a sympathetic ear, to know someone cares and loves them.

 I was taught this lesson recently by my daughter, who is six.  She came home from school, telling me a story about a girl whose sister had gone to the hospital.  The girl was worried for her sister and told Maggie that she was so lonely at night, without her sister in her bedroom, that she cried in bed.  Maggie told her “That is so sad.  I would've cried too.”  I teared up when Maggie told me this tale, because I don’t know if I would have acted so perfectly if I had been in her shoes. 

I am more apt to try and solve a problem than just be a good listener who sympathizes.   I might have suggested she sleep with her sister’s stuffed animal, or plugged in a nightlight, or said a special prayer.  All good responses, but that little girl didn't need her problem solved.  She didn't need me to DO anything.  She needed someone to understand her and let her know the way she was feeling was normal.  

Maggie didn't belittle her problems, and she taught me a lot with her simple response.  As Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Not just those with specific burdens or only huge concerns, but ALL of us with ALL our problems without comparison.  I’m going to try to be a little more like Jesus....



...and Maggie :)

11 comments:

  1. Love this post! And that Maggie - what a beautiful heart!

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  2. I love this! I tend to want to fix things for people (or tell them how to do it–ha!) but I think many times people just want to be heard. Even if they know that many other people struggle with bigger things, that doesn't mean that right now it isn't hard. Thanks for your sweet example, Maggie :)

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  3. Maggie is so wise. :). I try to remember how everyone's crosses are a cross to them and that most people just want sympathy and empathy, not advice. I really try to keep in mind that God gives different people different trials and our job is just to support each other, not compare who has it worst. After all comparision is the thief of joy ;) and it goes both ways, comparing yourself to others who have it "better" than you is just as much of a joy-killer as comparing whose cross is worse.

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  4. You are speaking my language here. I do the same thing, down playing my crosses because for the most part we are extremely blessed and lucky. But that doesn't mean our crosses aren't crosses to us. And we could all stand to be a little bit more like Maggie. What a special gift she gave to us all to remind us about sympathy and empathy.

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  5. Another one straight to my heart. Lately, my crosses and struggles feel insignificant, not so bad, I shouldn't complain, so I will just say nothing. Truth is, it's tough not saying anything and sometimes feeling like I am carrying so many others' "stuff" , is hard too. It is work to share and open up to others without worrying what they think or how they will respond. It is at times difficult not to feel insignificant or compare, even in the most Christian/Catholic circles.
    Thank you for giving me more to think about. Thank you Maggie for teaching us all a lesson too.

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  6. Such a great post. Go Maggie! What a wise soul.

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  7. Love this. And I needed to hear this message, too.

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  8. So beautifully written! And that Maggie - wise beyond her years! Amen, sister.

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  9. Oh Maggie Mae... what a sweet heart you have! This is a hard lesson to learn & put into practice.

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