Earlier today, on the way home from a meeting, I dropped by a store and picked up flowers, a card and a small gift for Valentine’s day. I was going to hide them and then, before Beth got up in the morning, put them on the kitchen counter. She was going to be surprised and happy and this brings me great joy. I arrived home and put everything on the counter. I fixed my lunch and sat down. Not long after there was a knock on the front door. I went to see who and it was Beth. She had gotten off work early today and as she came inside I remembered the flowers, card, and gift on the counter. “Don’t look on the counter!” I yelled, knowing it was too late. Her surprise of coming home early ruined my planned surprise for tomorrow.
Life is full of well…surprises. For a while, I was irritated things didn’t work out the way I anticipated but it occurred to me that its hard to give a gift of love with frustration in your heart. I shook it off and told her; “Happy Valentines Day!”
She did say she wouldn’t open the card until tomorrow.
What Did You Hear?
Listening is an art form. It has to do with more than hearing words. It also hears silences, tones and the organizations of words into sentences and questions. Listening is wanting to hear what the other is saying and being willing for those words to impact, challenge, and change the listener. Listening is not, however, always agreeing with the other. You can listen and believe differently than what the other is saying but you listen out of respect.
A friend of mine a few weeks ago was telling me about a conversation he had with a dear friend and said; “It didn’t go the way I planned!” His friend became upset with the conversation. I asked my friend; “Did you ask your friend what she had heard you say?” “No,’ he replied, ‘Why?” “Because,’ I said, “She might have heard something completely different from what you were saying.”
It’s amazing but communicating with others is a combination of listening, speaking, processing, projecting, interpreting and understanding. When one of these is missing the connection with the other can be lost, disrupted and the moment can never be repeated.
Listening is a sacred act, do it well.
Making Our Way –
You never know what’s going to happen at the county jail! Today it was a ceiling sprinkler that broke and flooded our classroom before I arrived. As a result of this malfunction I had to wait, and wait, and wait. We were supposed to start at 1:30PM but didn’t actually begin until 3:00PM.
Waiting is hard. Especially when you are geared up and ready to go teach a class of men who’ve been cooped up for many hours at a time. When I was finally able to get out of the foyer and into the bowels of the jail I was escorted to a small room with no dry erase board, only a few desks and was located next to the jail’s common area which meant it was loud! As I sat there waiting for the men to arrive another inmate from a previous class I had taught came in the room. At first it was small talk but eventually he shared his story of being let out but through a series of bad decisions he was back inside after only being gone for 5 months. It was heartbreaking and you could see the disgust on his face and hear the despair in his voice. He ended up staying for the class and at the end I told him; “If you want to keep coming and take the class again, you can.” He smiled and said he would. I hope he does.
One of the lessons we learn in the class is; “progression not perfection.” There will be difficult seasons which come either by our own choices or life never being easy. The question is; “what will you do when things don’t go as planned?” Hopefully, this young man will make the right decisions, recover and continue finding his way toward his better self. Hopefully the same can be said for us all.