The power of feeling “heard” is a gift we can give each day and shouldn’t take for granted.
So, how many of you remember your last conversation? Who was it with? What did you talk about? How long did it last? Did you feel like a teenager going through the third degree after coming back from a first date?
Let me explain why I am asking the barrage of seemingly interrogational questions. I have learned through the seasons of time that our lives are filled with the noise of conversations. From verbal to email, Facebook to Twitter to text, on and on they go. Do we really listen to what is being said, or do we simply flow along with the river of ever-intruding words that bounce off our lives like the pebbles off the Alafia River surface?
Those pebbles go far, but never very deep.
During the month of May, many experienced a variety of great celebrations. From Mother’s Day to Memorial Day, from Law enforcement, EMS and Armed Forces Week to school graduations, the festivities flourished. New churches, like First Call for our First Responders, had beginnings. Churches like Hopewell and Turkey Creek Baptist Church celebrated homecomings. Yet, in all these flowing flurries of festivities, one can still get lost in the crowd, overwhelmed by the activities and drained emotionally.
A true farmer can only take care of his crop when he stops long enough to inspect the leaves and the fruit and not just gaze on the field and trees. We can only take care of our community when we stop long enough to look in people’s eyes as we listen to the words to see the soul of someone that wants to know, “Do you really care enough to listen?” Many of those caring for our community and families have some type of hurt, need, or concern. When you get right down to it, we all have something that seems to be eating the leaves of our lives and spoiling the fruits of our joy. It is not that we will not have bugs in our life. It is just good to know that someone can come along side and say, “Yep. I don’t like ’em, either.”
The power of feeling ‘heard’ is a gift that I am trying each day to give. I may not be able to give it to hundreds, but I can start with one, and then two and then, well, you get the idea.
The Zulu tribe in Swaziland has a great greeting. It is “Ngiyakhubona” (make sure you have a couple of cups of strong coffee to warm up the mouth so you can pronounce it). However, it is not so much the word I want you to remember as it is the meaning behind it. The greeting simply conveys a thought: “I see you.”
Today, we say things like “Hi”, “Hello” or “Whatsuuuup,” but these greetings become the comfortable pebbles we throw when we do not want to “see” someone. Imagine what could happen to our community if everyone greeted someone with “I see you.” We say it to children who hide behind their parent’s legs. They also smile because they feel special when they have been “noticed.” Why not take the time to “see” your neighbor and ask, “How are you doing?” and stay long enough for them to realize you actually want to know? I believe it could produce a feeling of joy that no email or blog post could ever touch.
So, what will be your next conversation? Let people know you truly care and I guarantee it will be unforgettable.
Dr. Daniel Middlebrooks is the Senior Chaplain of First Call at Sydney Baptist Church.