Here is my fourth and final post following up on Making Art. In pondering upon the need to be heard, I first thought of listening. In today’s world many people may yearn to be listened to. Active listening is a challenging skill, and I for one always see a need to improve in this area. I believe if this was a more common goal in conversations, the world would be a better place. It’s a skill I received coaching on in my current workplace, and one that I later coached and trained new hires on. However, it’s crucial to apply not just in the workplace, but in interpersonal relationships. One problem may be a failure to realize you a need to improve listening skills, as noted in this article by Psychology Today: Deep Listening.
This is a bit of my story. As a naturally quiet, shy and introverted child, I experienced the frustration of being talked over, and missing the chance to give input. In larger social settings I was often afraid to speak up, but when asked a question sometimes a well meaning adult or peer would answer for me. If they only knew I just needed more time to think about my response. For as long as I can remember, I chose words carefully. When I would speak slowly and carefully, I often needed pauses to think a bit more before finishing.
The script was constantly changing in my head, just a tweak here or there, oh, that word, not that one. Sometimes it was hard to focus as I was observing everything and a constant stream of consciousness ran through my head even while talking. I would be acutely aware of my listeners and their reactions. Sometimes during a pause when I meant to add more, someone would jump in and start chattering too soon. Or I might think my listeners were bored, and trail off, giving up.
Yet people seemed to notice I listened fairly well. A little girl in second grade loved to walk and talk with me on the playground, declaring me a therapist. She even referred another friend to me to discuss a problem one day!
Just one experience of being listened to can make me smile. I’ve heard stories of some of the new hires trained at work who practiced active listening skills learned there with their friends or significant others and seen the delight in their faces at the result. If you want to learn more about how to actively listen, this article provides beautiful tips: Active Listening Skills.
However, I have found that even when it seems like no one else is around to listen, there is one who will listen whenever I ask. I am more grateful than I can express for this gift to be heard and to be understood. I am especially grateful for many more gifts that God has given me, and I reflect more than usual during Christmas season about the gift of Christ coming to earth for us. Below, I share with you a poem I wrote around Christmas time three years ago, and it is still one of my favorites.
My Inaudible Cry
My inaudible cry, my invisible pain, my inescapable guilt, my irretrievable loss, my darkness, sad and cold.
The ringing carols, the joyous season, the peaceful night, the selfless gifts, the brightness, happy and warm.
He hears my prayer, He bore my pain, He frees my soul, He restores my bereavement, He brings me hope.
All this, because long ago, a Savior was born.