Dad, can we go hunting? Dad, can we throw the ball outside? Dad, when are you gonna take me... The words dads hear in our lives sometimes land on deaf ears...but they are cries for support and recognition from our kids.
You know, this September 11th brings a mix of emotions for so many people in this country and around the world. It makes me wonder how many people truly are dealing with heart ache and pain that are mentioned as words, many times over in our lives, but those words too often fall on deaf ears.
The last few years of my life have been a mixture of pain and happiness. Although, most of what my family and I are dealing with is still an on going journey, I have realized a 'life' lesson that has started to change me. Not the change that causes you to act different tomorrow, the kind of change that makes you recognize the very moments of your daily life.
The difficulties of life experienced within your family, within your walls, within your complexed busyness, are impossible for others to ever understand. They are the deepest, sometimes most individualized emotions that you ever experience. What you long for are for people just to understand...no, for people to just know. But somehow without your explanation, cause the simple thought of explaining your emotions seems selflessly pointless to explain, for fear of feeling burdensome to those that care the most.
Losing my father, tragically without closure. Losing two children, unexplainably. Makes me want to scream sometimes cause the emotion is so real, but due to respect of others time or emotion, I keep quiet. I still keep quiet. But why...sadly, I have learned why.
I am a horrible listener.
My journey has taught me something. We, I, are horrible listeners.
We are afraid. We are afraid of reality. We are afraid of the risk of getting too involved and not knowing what to say or how to act. It is sad to say the least. But lets be honest, we are fearful of putting others before ourselves. Trust me, it is a realization that brings much accountability to myself. It brings awareness to where I have failed, where I need to do better and where I need to down right change. It is...the ultimate Love that Christ brought and why this world causes us to fight it.
I think back to past conversations, 'how did your mother die?' 'We lost her to cancer.' 'Sorry to hear that, how is your job and your kids, are they good?'...my goodness, the lack of pure understanding. The simple passover of words that are filled with days, weeks and months of suffering, pain and survival. The simplest of words, filled with a lifetime of memories. A lifetime of doubt, guilt and regret...love and joy. A simple statement overlooked by me, but to that person, quite simply the most important, impactful and meaningful times of their life spent with their mother during her last moments of her life. Not because I didn't understand, but because I just didn't listen. Listening doesn't require understanding.
People just want you to know. They want you to know that they know pain. They want you to know that when you go through a tragedy, they feel it too. It doesnt take you having to explain your pain for them to understand it, it takes you having to listen to their pain for you to understand it. Hear me, if we took more time to hear people, hear their journey, their hardships, their loss, almost immediately the bond of understanding starts. Whether the emotion of understanding is experienced depends on the circumstance. But, it starts with listening. When you listen, you know. When you know, you remember. Then, when it happens to you, they remember too.
I have taken time to deeply think about the past conversations of good friends and family, to think about the simply overlooked statements of deep pain and due to my lack of willingness to listen, when my pain is experienced, it caused me to miss the connection, to miss my fill for sympathy. The ability to let that person hear me too. If only I had paid better attention, if only I had taken the time to be there in their moment, my moments now would be better filled with understood response. Only then would their simple words of, 'I understand' create a since of peace, instead of doubt of 'how could they?'.
People care, we just choose not to when it counts most. Why? Cause its not comfortable. Why should it be. Pain is not something we are ever taught to embrace. We are not often reminded that pain creates, it's almost always 'pain hurts'. We are never taught that pain creates love. Ironically, it took me having to experience deep pain to realize others pain. Ultimately, recognizing...deep pain teaches love. A great example is the miracle of child birth.
Im learning. I hope you're hearing. If you haven't experienced deep pain, you will. Its life. I only wish my words start the awareness now, to pay attention...to care about the details of others pain. The connection you will create will soften your blow. It will. Those people will know you know. They will connect with you, cause you took the time to connect with them...their pain. You win, we all win.
In closing. Im not crying for help...Im celebrating my growth. Im holding myself accountable, publicly to you. I have been a horrible listener. I only wish I had taken better time, needed time, when you needed it. Cause it is what was right...for you. I wish it hadn't taken me such deep pain to realize this, I pray it doesnt take you as long as it took me.
I am a good listener.