It’s true when as you get older, your social circle shrinks. I’m not talking about that list of “friends” on facebook and twitter that con you into thinking you have a bunch of people to lean on when your friend list has 1000 people in it. But the core group, your girlfriends, are the ones who you can share your deepest disappointments with. Like when you’ve given up on your dream. Or your heart is breaking because you found out your husband cheated. Or, you simply scared to lose a parent whose getting older and keeps going in the hospital with no improvement. Somehow, it makes life better when you can call that one person who will simply listen.
I know the value of listening. Not giving advice. Not telling them what to do. Not spitting out a Bible verse. But listening. I didn’t always understand it. I used to find special joy in being a problem solver. But as I’ve grown up, I realize it’s not about that. When I get a call, and hear the distress, I stop and listen instead of waiting my turn to jump in and save the day. It’s changed the way I perceive my relationships because I have realize some people just need a safe space to talk. They didn’t ask me nor do they need me to tell them what to do. They just called because they are hurt and need to vent.
If we take the time to listen, and not attempt to solve our friends problems with our best ideas, we might hear the hurt in a person’s voice. I wonder if we choose not to listen closely because we can’t handle hearing that kind of pain. We say we’ll call them back after they’ve dropped a bomb that’s going to change their lives. We get quiet when she calls back and think, I hope she doesn’t want to talk about THAT again. Or we go into solution mode and offer a book, a video, that has helped us with our own junk.
Everybody’s journey is different even though we are walking down the same street. Most of the time, the solution is within us, we just are working through the process of our emotions. So the next time the urge pops off to say “girl, look -this is what you need to do….” Just hush, listen, and allow a different dimension fo friendship to develop.
No one wants you to be Oprah with the best answers a girl could ever ask for, but a friend who loves and is willing allow them to spazz out without judgement. I’ve got great friends, with great difficulties at times, but the best gift I’ve been able to give them is knowing when they call, I’m all ears because it may be the only place they can share their fears. Life is messy, confusing, and downright unfair at times, but having a friend whose willing to hear you out can make all the world of difference.
I’m working at being a better listener, because I know now it’s not my place to solve your problems. I need friends who are willing to do the same, and sit in the uncomfortable silence of not knowing the solution, but trusting that eventually, I’ll get there. I value my friends, but value their process of growth even more. So, I’m learning to listen.