We sit in the chilled fall air at a downtown cafe, coats on and twin cupcakes on the table between us. She talks about big things going on in her life, golden-edged things welcomed after a season of hard no’s. She is teary and grateful. I listen enthusiastically because part of me comes alive when I get to hear other people share their good news and realized dreams.
I imagine God sitting there with us, enjoying His daughters enjoy community.
After we lick the last traces of cupcake frosting from our fingers, she apologizes for monopolizing the conversation. I wave my hand and tell her she didn’t monopolize it one bit. She shined in the conversation, for the love. And I am happy to give her the space to do so because it means she trusted me enough to cup a bit of her heart in my hands.
I could make a too-long list of all the times I haven’t had gracious intentions towards friends. Sometimes I care more about what I want to say than what I want to hear. If the scales tip because I do this too much, then I’m not being the best kind of friend.
Because the truth is this: If you want to be a friend to someone, you must reconcile the fact that you don’t always get to have your say. You have to care more about listening than talking.
“You’re not thinking about what you have to say, you’re thinking of what you can hear.” Alia Joy
Of course, the hallmark of great friendships are when both women share in equal parts. But sometimes – in a single conversation or over a season – we place our own words on an altar as we listen with abandon.
Is this hard to do? Sometimes. Is it worth the effort? Always.
If community wasn’t important, Jesus wouldn’t have chosen to get his sandals dusty in the middle of it. But He did, and He was the best kind of listener while doing so. Humility is the heartbeat of all encouragement, and it takes humility to sit with hands and heart open and lips closed. It takes security to know that listening to her share her victories and blessings doesn’t diminish your own choices and abilities. It takes compassion to know that listening to her share her struggles and losses doesn’t elevate your status in the imaginary Woman Who Most Has Her Act Together challenge. It takes a true sister to cheer on another sister in ways that make both women come alive.
It takes a friend, a good friend.
Speak up, sisters! How can I cheer you on today?