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?
Shelly Miller says
I walked right by you sitting there at that small table that day and I knew you were listening because your eyes never left her face. I think you are the kind of friend every girl longs to have, I know that after one face to face encounter with you. A face who cares, is one I remember.
Shelly, that may be the kindest thing anyone has ever told me. Thank you ~ and I’m certain this is an example of you recognizing what you yourself do so beautifully. Oh yes!
I *loved* meeting you. You are a treasure.
Loved this!! I came home from Allume bursting and just told a friend Sunday that I felt like I had monopolized the conversation. 🙂 And I promised her that when we get together next week, I’ll be the one listening. I actually posted on Monday about listening to people’s hearts, but in the context of ministry. It is SO important! Thank you for the reminder. 🙂 You have a beautiful heart!
I’ve monopolized more than my fair share of conversations, and I’m also thankful for friends who give me the space to both talk and listen in turn. Love your words here, Leah!
She was a sobbing wet mess and you were the one shining like Jesus.
She loves you dearly sharing cupcakes, sitting at tables, and from a thousands of miles away.
You are glorious, girl. xoxoxoxoxo times a million.
ok. next time we are in the same place for 3 days straight, we must sit down and have a conversation together. i feel like we are kindred spirits because of this statement – “part of me comes alive when I get to hear other people share their good news and realized dreams” – that happens to me too! i’m sorry i didn’t pursue a conversation this time around. and this “It takes a true sister to cheer on another sister in ways that make both women come alive.” tears fill my eyes. beautiful post friend. coffee & cupcake will be my treat when we see each other again.
Caroline, I feel the exact. same. way. About Allume, about being kindred spirits, about all of it. I’m just going to crash your place in NC sometime. Or maybe Myquillyn’s. Or maybe both.
I don’t think I got to meet you @ Allume but it’s on my list of things to do someday..so I can listen to you too! 🙂
“If you want to be a friend to someone, you must reconcile the fact that you don’t always get to have your say.” Holy moley did I need to hear that. Thank you so much.
Jacque Watkins says
Oh how I love you so so SO much and am so thankful to call you my friend. So very thankful! Sending hugs across the miles today…xo
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
I love the line…”we place our own words on an altar as we listen with abandon”. Thanks for the reminder that God knows what is on our heart when we choose to put others first and listen to them. Wise words my friend!!
Well said by one who listens well and loves friends well.