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.

38 thoughts on “You Listened

  1. I heard your sigh. As the conversation played out, I could sense the sadness and angst of the person on the other end. But I could also hear your tenderness, compassion and empathy as you listened. (I meant to tell you this after you hung up, but didn’t have time.) I am proud to say I work with you. Well done.


  2. Colleen, to actually hear another person is one of the greatest gifts we can give to another human being. And I thank you for “listening” to my written words. It does make a difference. it does change the world, to simply listen.


    • It does Carolin. I can remember times I felt truly heard and whether counsel followed or not, the acknowledgement of being heard felt amazing. I am so grateful I read that passage, took the time to reflect on it, and then pulled it to my awareness when it would benefit two people. Me. And the caller.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ya’ did good today. Real, real good.

    I’m glad you wrote this out. It’s so thought provoking and really something we should each change in our lives, both the listening to and the talking to.



  4. Good for you Colleen. Listening is a gift from God, and I think you know that. You are special. Thank you for listening, even though it wasn’t I who called.


  5. That is so true, actually listening makes all the difference. I think we can all tell as humans, as souls, when we are being really listened to and for most of us I think it is all we want from another human at that moment of crisis. I am sure the caller felt heard, I feel heard by you just with written word.
    It must have been difficult given earlier but you were able to pull in the strength you needed. Woot! (Awesome, good on ya, job well done, gamer speak I think it is, like it better than you go girl lately).

    I appreciate your compassion in words, and the understanding you extend to so many, self included. It is hard but you do it, as though you have and are trained for it in a kind of spiritual dojo. Your capacity for compassion is something that I would say is a rare gift from my observance of mankind. Thank you, I know it is draining, but I appreciate your extending such a great gift in this blogging world as well.
    Winded I know, but felt needed. Happy All Hallow’s Eve 🙂


    • Niaaeryn, thank you for your kindness and time you took to respond so thoughtfully to this. I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by compassionate and considerate people. It is easy to take on or improve those qualities/skills of one’s own when there is a exposure to it in one’s llife, work included. I have learned to recognize my own stressors when working and being drained emotionally. Before that call came in I had considered taking lunch and avoiding my desk for that half hour. Because I was so ready for a break. Instead, I opted to return to the office and finish what I was working on. Write up my notes. That’s when the phone call came in. If I had taken my lunch and returned later I would have had a bit more energy about me, a little less baggage from what had previously happened.

      But it played out this way for a reason. Maybe to help the caller? Maybe to help myself?

      Anyway, I thank you for your very kind words. They are like a salve. 🙂


  6. Opening quote from my 8/6/13 post… one of my favorites and well aligned, I believe, with your experience and feelings.

    “The most basic and powerful way to connect with another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen


  7. My friend, the way you write feels like the thoughts in my head at times. You bring me into your world and I feel the empathy that comes with being compassionate like you. You are a gift to me and many. Thank you for sharing your moments. Mucho love and have a nice weekend.


    • Thank you so much Millie. I know what you mean…often I read other’s (yours included) words and am amazed at how they feel pulled from within me. I appreciate, so much, that you feel I am a gift. You’re my favorite today Millie. I am feeling quite loved right now. And returning it with gladness.


  8. Sometimes that’s all that is needed.

    I haven’t replied to the comments on one of my posts from earlier this week yet, but I think you just wrote and started out with you “didn’t know what to say…” Again, it is about listening via reading, which even without the benefit of your added words is still a huge comfort for me.



    • 😀 Hugs returned. And I’m feeling such incredible positive vibes on WP today. I think we have entered a season of support and compassion NAPR. And I remember one of the best comments I ever received when talking to someone, they heard me, and when I finished all they had to say was “I hear you” and I felt so much lighter having just gotten the weight out of me on the breath of my voice and it being heard.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for sharing the lessons you learn every day. The hard part isn’t hearing or listening, but the compassion behind your listening. You’re giving me more inspiration every time I read one of your blog posts. 🙂


    • It made a difference on my end Mark, when I remembered what I had read earlier. A huge difference, at least for me. It’s amazing how a little ‘thing’ can change our outlooks, our behaviors and demeanors.


  10. Yes, we should take our time to listen …. not only to each others and others words, listen to the nature … listen to life.
    Honestly, I think there is so many of us that is never properly listened to. We talk to each other, but its like the words just pass us on the way out.
    Colleen, you were very helpful … you listen.


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