And I will listen to you, though I might not solve your problems.
When I was a kid I used to think about what was I good at. As I had grown up in a Christian upbringing and household, and in the ministry of caring for people, as it should be, there were many talents and gifts in others around me, either in teaching, prayer, music, or social work. I couldn’t recognize having any of those strengths in myself.
You can be an encourager, my mother said to me.
I thought to myself, what does that really mean? An encourager? I didn’t put much thought into it, being young and restless, and I reverted back to listening to the pop music of my youth and dismissed it out of my head.
When I grew older, I realized what it meant. I shared before that I am naturally reserved by nature, being more comfortable in smaller social groups, and enjoyed one-to-one connections with people.
I found then that people tend to open up and confide in me, and I would listen.
I listened to them, their story, their hurts, their history.
They may not even be that close to me, while some others I had eventually developed a relationship with, and I wondered why they choose me to tell their stories to. Maybe I appeared neutral and harmless, no threat to themselves, probably.
They wanted to be heard, and I gave them the ear and attention they wanted.
I found them fascinating, and I felt sad with them, but most of the time, all I could offer was that, a listening ear, and if they wanted, I shared my opinions.
They trusted me with their secrets, and I felt honored to be there for them for a short moment in our lives.
To say I was never affected by what I heard would be a lie. The one and only time I ever got drunk, so drunk that my mind stopped recording, my husband told me I was crying when we got home that night, and when he asked me what I was crying about, apparently I said it was not fair, whatever was happening to them. It sounds so cryptic to me now, and of course, I have no recollection of this night.
I was able to do this more before I had my children, my time is mostly taken up by kids and work now, but I still try to read someone’s emotional body language when I can.
I won’t share what you have chosen to confide in me, and the only person I talk to would be my husband who is sworn to secrecy to me, by marriage, in my opinion anyway.
This is why in an earlier post, I wrote how I was drawn to the brokenness in people, as it was authentically them, and sometimes they are drawn to me, or at least what I can offer.
It is not much, but for a while at least, they feel a little less alone in their burdens.