As I sat across the table from my friend, I stilled my mind to intently hear what was said. Not for a lesson for him, nor what I could learn in what he was sharing. No, I was there to simply listen.
Hours before I had prayed over this meeting, the conversation and what would be talked about because I know my friend needed to talk. He needed to share and be heard, something I don’t think he feels is happening with his life presently-either with colleagues, friends, family or even God.
My nature as someone who empathizes with others is to often listen to fix. To figure it out and discern what God is trying to teach-maybe to them but often to myself. I want to hear them but only as I prepare to mindfully respond to what they are saying.
God had other plans as He calls us to walk this life in community. To not just listen with our ears but with His heart, to the cries of His children. To the moans of the earth, and respond appropriately.
A listening heart means that sometimes you don’t respond verbally, but in repeated prayers. A listening heart means you don’t sit and think on how to respond immediately but actually hear the heart of the other person opening up. This was a vulnerable conversation I had with my friend, one in which I shared with him in return something I do not talk about very often (actually rarely). It was an opportunity for God to use me to hear but also for my friend to speak.
A listening heart allows vulnerability to take place and be present, it provides an avenue in which friendship is grown without pretense or expectation. A listening heart bears the burden without judgement. And a listening heart allows time and thoughtful consideration to the person speaking.
I hadn’t fully prepared my head and heart for the conversation that transpired and the heavy weight my friend is carrying presently. However I know God needed me present and listening for my friend more than He needed me to suggest solutions or fixes. He needed me to share a prayer with my weary-hearted friend hours later rather than in that moment. God needed me present and listening with my heart, just as my friend did.
It is a joy to be used and available in such a way…as I am ever so thankful to have rediscovered a listening heart within that Christ fills with His love and compassion.