Today, at a county health council, I had the privilege to listen to a man speak about an abusive childhood which was saved by someone who cared enough to take him under his wing and become his mentor. He described how this older gentleman would take him out for breakfast some morning and listen, just listen. This went on for several months. Finally, it dawned on the young man that he wasn’t being judged or given unsolicited advice, his mentor was there to hear him. He listened to the good and a lot of bad, the smidgen of positive and a plethora of negatives. The young man, at last, ran out of words to say and the mentor slowly helped him work through all the challenges and difficulties which result from growing up in an abusive and neglectful home. This mentor made all the difference in his life and as a result, the speaker now helps run a multi-county mentoring program and has improved the lives of countless young men and women.
It was a great reminder that most times the greatest gifts we can give another is presence and listening. Too often we see our role in the chaotic lives of others as telling them what to do, how to do it, advice that will make things better and shape to look more like ours. The speaker said today; “I didn’t need someone to tell me all the things I needed to do. I needed someone to let me get it all out so I could sort through it all and figure out what to keep and what to throw away.”
Presence and listening. Two of the greatest and perhaps least used treasures we possess.
Beth and I spent most of the day taking care of P.O.B’s (Piles of Beth or Brian). It’s those ever-increasing places at home that seem to collect stuff we put down when we come in the door, lay down when our hands are full, place somewhere; “only for a moment.” However, before you know it a couple of months have gone by and we’ve continued to add, never subtract, from the piles and they seem to take over the house. So today we began tackling them, going through, getting rid of what’s now not needed, putting up what is actually still useful in our lives.
As we worked from room to room we also talked about things which we could’ve conversed about weeks ago but hadn’t. We teased each other, laughed and broached topics that were sensitive and allowed ourselves to be vulnerable, not defensive.
Wisdom tells us that our lives can quickly become P.O.S.’s (piles of stuff). They fill our minds and lives, clutter our spirits and if we’re not diligent, suffocate the light by which we navigate. It’s not easy to sort through the messes but living with the chaos proves much harder the longer we try and exist in the junk and confusion.