Do you listen really well? ---Eyes fixed, ears perched, maybe a tear may fall or a laugh trickle out as the person shares a piece of themselves with you? You’re all in, in that moment. Being a great listener is a wonderful quality to have. It’s an attribute to be proud of. It makes people feel safe. We have to be careful though that we don’t hide behind our listening. Sometimes the greatest listeners have walls up. Sometimes the walls are decorated nicely to make others feel that you are welcoming. It’s not like you are resentful or mean, you want people to feel welcomed in your presence. You sincerely care. You just have these nicely decorated walls there to protect you. The walls say, "I am here for you. I will listen to you. I will encourage you. I will pray for you. There’s only one thing I can’t do, I can’t let you in, completely." And that is where you sell yourself and others short. Listening makes them feel safe, but sharing your vulnerability makes them feel courageous.
Not everyone in your life needs to see your heart exposed, however, you should always remain open to who God wants to bring in your life. It’s hard getting to know someone new sometimes. I understand. You think about the risks and the what ifs. Being vulnerable can be risky, but think about the God given gift you could be missing out on.
About 4 years ago, I started saying I had all the friends I needed. They all have been in my life for 10 plus years. I’m safe. They know me. I know them. I really didn’t NEED another friend.
So, I went to work. I decorated my walls beautifully. I would sit out front with you, pick you some flowers and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea with you. You shared. I cared. And I sold you short. I’m sorry for that. I could have missed out on some wonderful friendships. There is nothing I love more than a beautiful friendship. I value my friends. I’m in their corner. I cheer them on. They talk. I listen. I talk. They listen. If you have a friend that cares about the condition of your heart, you found a precious thing. Hold on to them.
Although, I value friendships, I felt like I didn’t have the time to invest in new friendships. I also didn’t feel like myself the last four years and meeting new people put my anxiety through the roof. I couldn’t figure myself out, let alone someone else. I was just too busy trying to figure out who this new me was that showed up in my life.
So, I stopped sharing “me” with others. I just listened. God didn’t like that. but the enemy did. The enemy loves to isolate you. That’s another story for another day.
As I am slowly taking down the brick wall that is 4 years high, I want to encourage you to reach out to someone new. They may just be exactly what you need and you may be exactly what they have been praying for. If God has nudged you to reach out to someone, do it! If someone reaches out to you, don’t hide. Take the chance.
For example, I was invited to a baby shower, a couple of years ago. I almost turned the car around five times because I was letting the chatter in my head get to me. Again, this was never who I was before, so it was very hard for me to even understand what was happening. I argued with myself while crying. I prayed and pushed through. I could have turned around and missed out on a sweet friendship. That very day I went from being acquaintances with someone to being really good friends.
Be courageous in your vulnerability. Share your story while still being a great listener. People will let you down every now and then, but to find a friend that you can sit in your mess with is worth the risk and an absolute treasure to have.
"We’ll be friends forever, wont we, Pooh?" – asked Piglet
"Even longer."- Pooh answered.
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