This morning after the kids got off to school I decided to call the doctor for advice about my cold and see what would be recommended to help me. I was talking to a medical receptionist and asked to talk to an advice nurse. She very kindly asked me what I needed. I told her my story of having a cold the last week, and it wasn’t getting better. I had developed some sinus pain and felt that I was getting worse and not better. I explained to her that I was going out of town in the afternoon and just wanted some advice about what to do before leaving town. She looked up my doctor’s schedule, and my doctor didn’t have any slots open. She asked me how quickly I could get into the office and said she thought she saw an opening in another doctor’s schedule. She asked if I could get there in 25 minutes. I could! So she set up the appointment.
I hurried and took a shower and got ready, drove to the clinic, and got in rather quickly to see the doctor. He was kind and listened to my history and told me I probably had a sinus infection, gave me a very helpful prescription and some recommendations for over the counter medicine that could ease some symptoms. Then I was off to the pharmacy and back home to pack for our trip. It was a very smooth and easy interchange, and I felt listened to and helped immediately. I really wasn’t expecting to go to the doctor or be helped so quickly and efficiently. It took someone to really listen to my circumstances and story and really hear me. I feel grateful to have finally turned the corner on this cold, thanks to a kind listener this morning.
Listening is an art form. When two people hear and listen and understand, there is no better connection. But it is hard to accomplish. It takes discipline. It takes suspending selfish needs and refraining from interjection of personal footnotes. I find that I am a much better listener to adults. I have always considered myself more of an adult person than a kid person. So I find it easier to listen to the complex stories of my adult friends and family than to the younger concerns of children.
But a little while ago, I learned about the concept of being truly present. This means completely tuned in and present in mind and body with the person, usually one of my children, with whom I am spending time. This requires putting aside pressing to-do lists and tasks to be completed and simply turning my attention and thoughts to the person I am talking with. This is a marvelous concept. Being present with my kids as they tell me about the details of their thoughts and life is one of the goals I have. Being present with Erik as he tells me about work or soccer coaching or helping others in our church is what I want to be.
When I feel listened to and understood, it helps me feel whole and valued. I get this in a few places. One is in prayer as I pour out my heart and wait for the desired answers or confirmations. And I often get this from Erik as he listens so well to all the musings and wrestlings of my heart. It draws us closer. It adds to the feeling of love I receive from him. It helps me feel worthwhile.
Being present with all people — in the store, in the neighborhood, in my home, in heaven. A goal and aim for my life.