Friday, May 17, 2024

Courage to ask, compassion to listen

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 17, 2024
How many times have you greeted someone with, "Hi, how are you?" Do you say it without thinking about the door you just opened? Most of us don't think about hearing anything more than saying they are good. We don't expect to hear the real answer as we walk away.

On Mother's Day, one of my neighbors came into my yard while I was outside with Charlie on the deck. I asked her how it was going and was prepared for the answer. Judging by the sadness she was clearly showing, it was obvious, she needed to talk. We've had many conversations about her husband's illness because she listened to mine about my husband's. We have a lot in common but it dawned on me that the support we give to one another would not be possible had we not been courageous enough to ask and compassionate enough to listen to the answer.

The greatest gift we can give is our time and the willingness to listen to them.

When I was training to become a Chaplain, that point was made clear when the instructor asked us what we would need when we were going through emotional turmoil. All of us knew it would be to have someone to talk to. It isn't as easy to find as you may think, especially when we tend to hide our pain. It is even harder for us to find someone who will understand what we're trying to say because we fear being judged by them.

They open the door for us when they dare to ask us and tell us about their struggles. We become assured they will understand what we hide because they did too. 

Time is such an enormous gift, because most of the time, others want to speak more than they are willing to listen. When they do listen, they want to shut down the conversation with words to "fix" them. Sometimes those words and be more damaging than not being willing to listen at all. 

Too many times I've heard responses such as, "God only gives us what we can handle." The person in pain was just told that God did it to them. How can anyone be expected to ask God for help if they were just informed He did it to them? They can't. They were also told that the person they were trying to share their pain with, just judged them as worthy of God's punishment. They hear from others, "Get over it," as if the expiration date has come and they should move on. It doesn't help if they don't know how to begin to do the one thing they want most. 

Talking is often too hard to do when you are in emotional/spiritual pain. I know I hide a lot because of history and the way some people responded to times when I shared with them, taught me I shouldn't. That's why I have a therapist trained to listen without judgment and offer advice as to how I may heal. I am writing again because of her. It is hard to do however, I am remembering why I do what I do and who I am again.

I am healing and happier although the problems are sadly not going away. At least I have enough hope that each day brings the possibility the surgeon we need will be found and my husband gets the operation he needs. We've been waiting for a year. My neighbor has it worse because she doesn't have all the support I do to help her get through it. All I can do is be there to listen and set my problems aside long enough to give her a hug.

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