You Listened

I took a phone call today.  I wasn’t in a good place, mentally, when it rang.  But I had to answer it.  I was still trying to process out of my head an unpleasant encounter I had just stood through and could do nothing to prevent or change the outcome of.  The encounter left me sad and a bit emotionally drained.   While trying to get rid of the bad taste of that encounter the phone rings.

I answer it.

And immediately my head is held captive by the unstoppable voice on the other end.

Another sad story.  Another sad encounter.  Another heart wrenching situation I cannot do anything to change.

I sat and listened.  I actually put my head on my desk because I didn’t have the strength to hold my head up and listen to the voice.  I chose to use the strength I had at the moment to listen to someone.  To someone who didn’t even care if I spoke back.  Didn’t even care if I had an answer, solution or wise comment.  The voice just wanted to be heard.

I found myself sighing.  And my initial reaction was frustration.   I didn’t express it.  Say it.  Or even allow myself to think it.  I just felt it.  I was too drained, I thought, to do this again without having recharged.

Then I remembered something I had read about this morning.   I can’t remember the passage or the actual wording.  But I remember the moment I reflected on it and what it meant to me.

Something that told me if I listen to others with obligation I give them morsels of ….dryness.  But if I listen to them through the gifts God gave me using compassion and understanding I give something entirely different.  It feels different in the giving of it, and hopefully in the receiving of it.

I don’t know if the voice on the other end believes in God.  Or my God.  Or has any faith at all.   But I do believe and I do trust.  And I do try to learn.  Grant it, I am a very slow learner.  But I continue to try and learn.

My belief in God, today, and the lesson I paid attention to earlier in the day made a difference to the voice on the phone.

I hope.

I can’t know for sure.

But my belief and my wanting to do more than fulfill an obligation made me sit up, stop sighing, and try to respond to the need in the voice.  Even if I didn’t have an answer, I wanted to respond to that voice that was searching.  I listened, I think, more attentively.  I responded to the fluctuations in the voice that indicated emotion.  I attached an actual person to the voice and gave that voice the attention it needed.

No, it didn’t make me any smarter.  No, I didn’t give life altering information.   No, I didn’t change the life on the other end.   No, I didn’t feel less drained or suddenly have a resurgence of energy and positivity.

No, I didn’t feel any better when I said goodbye and hung up the phone.

But the voice on the other end did slow down it’s obvious attempt to keep me captive.  The voice relaxed.  The voice, I hope and think, felt heard.  The voice accepted my apology for not having answers other than directions I thought might be helpful.   The voice said thank you for listening to me I shouldn’t have dumped all of this on you.  And I responded that it was okay, I just wished I could have been more helpful.

The voice said you listened.

And I did.