The Power Of An Ear
For the past two months I have had the opportunity, and privilege really, to be a part of Teach One to Lead One. Before a friend of mine asked if I would like to help and be a mentor this summer, I had really never heard of the program. Even as I was getting ready for the 1st meeting, all I knew was I was going to be hanging out with a group of High School students that, because of some bad choices they had made, were required by the courts to attend this 10 week program. I came to find out that this great program is not only
offered in situations like this, but also available in many schools as a way to help young men and women learn how to be more effective leaders. With only two weeks left to meet with these amazing students who have quickly stolen a piece of my heart, I told them last night that I am gonna be a weepy mess on their graduation day. Going into such a diverse group of students, all being made to be there as opposed to signing up for it themselves, I wasn't sure what to expect. Would they be talkative? Would they have attitude? Would we laugh together or would everything be serious? The first week or two there were times when it felt like pulling teeth to get them to talk about Universal Principles like courage and integrity, but by the 3rd week, my heart smiled at how much they trusted me with the precious details of their lives. Having worked with students for so long, I sometimes feel more comfortable around them than my own peer group. It's not that I fit in with them, I am pretty much pop culturally illiterate and as one friend once describe me, "if a song came out after 1995 Danee won't know it." And loving the look of the 50's with their headscarfs and cardis, I am not a trendy dresser, I still have clothes in my closet from college 15 years ago. But despite not having a lot of external things in common with students, I love the honesty of heart that they have. It doesn't come quickly, but when it does, the conversations are never superficial. A couple years ago I was working for a wise friend who often said that students are drawn to the oldest person who takes them seriously. And it's true. Over the last eight weeks I haven't offered they students any earth shattering advice or opened up the gates of wisdom in my one on one conversations with them. All I really do is listen. As with everyone who lives in this fallen world, their stories are similar to all of ours in that there is heartache and injustice that has assaulted them. Like everyone, they don't want to be fixed, but rather just having someone who will take the time to listen means so much. This got me thinking about all the times I didn't listen over the years or when I didn't have someone to really listen to me. By nature I am task oriented, or as someone told me once, I get crap done. I really do enjoy the whole process of dreaming something up, figuring out how to get it accomplished and then there is a high of the organized chaos that often comes from pulling a big event or project together. Even when I worked graveyard shift at Waffle House, there was something I absolutely loved about nights we were so slammed I couldn't sit down. And while this is a gift, it also has been a cause of pain, more so for those around me. Over the years, through the grace of God, I have trained myself to stop and value time with a person more than what I can do for them. Sometimes it's looking at a close friend and seeing defeat in their eyes, or seeing a stranger at the park with slumped shoulders, but I pray I never miss out of the chance to be an ear for someone. Everyone goes through times where all we need is someone to listen and just say, "that sucks." Not that we wallow with them or enable them if they find themselves making unwise choices, but that we take the time hear them. Through simply listening to someone else we validate their worth and value and are an extension of the hands of The Creator pouring out His deep love for them. So I think just like students definitely are drawn to the oldest person who takes them seriously, everyone needs that listening ear. As we get older, whose ear we crave changes, but we all crave someone to listen. Really listen. Sometimes all it takes is a listening ear to change the path of someones day....