Porch #80 * Tell . Write . Listen

a soft place to land
a calm weekend haven
a gentle pause from life's busyness
so we may experience
the tender lovingkindness of Jesus
as we do life together
in community

Hey, it's good to be back together again.

Are you a story teller?  A story writer?  A story listener?

Right off the top I'll tell you that I'm not a story teller.  I can't remember details, my timing is off, I miss the point, I won't leave you hysterically rolling on the floor.   A completely unmemorable event.

I'm not a story writer either.  Here and there I've given it a whirl, usually with some kind of a devotional twist.  But after my third refusal from (in)courage some years back, I tossed that whole idea aside.  And I definitely had no interest in even dreaming of publishing anything even though a few kind-intentioned people encouraged me to go in that direction.

What were they thinking?

But all is not lost because I've come to accept that God's shaped me to be a listener.  Professionally, yes, but also simply as a human person.  It's a humbling honor to hold space for the heart of another, especially when it's tender and broken.  And even after all these years, I'm still in learning mode.

Listening is an art that doesn't come naturally to most of us.  We're usually too busy figuring out how to respond, how to fix, how to draw attention to our brilliant advice or witty repartee.  Our eyes glance at the clock or around the room, we fidget, our body language shouting that we are absorbed in ourselves and not at all present to the person in front of us.  

And they know it.

But I still believe that this is a priceless gift to pursue, cultivate, and refine.

The bottom line is that most human beings deeply desire to be acknowledged, heard, valued.  More than ever, most of us are yearning to have someone create a quiet space that allows us to be seen.  To have the reality of our thoughts and emotions validated.  To hold out grace and kindness and hope toward us without judgement or pat answers or some kind of hidden agenda.  

To let us know we're not alone. 

I love that we serve the One who's not only written our life stories but also already knows when the final curtain is going to fall.  Nothing shocks or shakes Him.  No one, but no one, listens attentively like Jesus.  He truly understands our ins and outs, ups and downs, twists and turns.  Because He's been here, done that.  Without a taint of sin or shame.

These 3 powerful stories grabbed me this week ...   
'Heather had a way of crossing barriers and offering unbiased love to those who often had suffered the lack of enduring love before ...' 

'Please be sure that people know that I never lost a battle with cancer.  God was always in control, not the cancer.' 

Philip Yancey's Diagnosis
A measure of shame seems to accompany disability.  There is an innate shame in inconveniencing others for something that is neither your fault nor your desire.  And a shame in having well-meaning friends overreact: some may treat you like a fragile antique, or complete your sentences when you pause a second to think of a word.'

Beth Moore's Childhood
'You know that there’s infidelity.  You know that there has been abuse ... those years were maniacal ... Looking to your mother and thinking she can’t take care of me, looking to your father and thinking you are the scariest thing in my life.  And what happens to us now?  It really was terrifying.'
(content warning: sexual abuse, mental illness)

Adam McHugh

Philip Yancey

Beth Moore

Stephen Ministries
 provide high-quality, one-to-one, 
Christ-centered care to people 
experiencing life difficulties
(hint - listening is key)

May our attentive spirits give space for another's stories this weekend ~
I'm so glad you're here.
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