A few years ago, I called my grandmother, seeking her advice and her listening ear on a most difficult matter. Funny thing it is, I don’t remember the most difficult matter or what exactly she said but I remember the feeling of being in over my head at the beginning of the call and feeling like I finally had ground beneath my feet by the end of it.
During that conversation, I shared with her how grateful I was to have her in my life – an older wiser woman who could weigh in with her experience wisdom and love. How priceless, I told her.
It was then that she said something that’s stuck with me: “Yes, she said. That’s the hardest thing about being the oldest generation she said; you dearly miss having someone with that kind of wisdom and experience.”
That perspective, it changed me. It helped me realize the very beautiful gift of having someone who could walk beside me, listening, asking perplexing questions and then placing in my hands gems of truth about life, like small diamonds that were excavated from the intensely hard and rocky places of life and then lovingly shared.
While for a long while, this perspective fueled me to seek out older, wiser people in the older generations with whom to be in relationship, it wasn’t until recently that I realized the life-giving beauty of not only seeking but also in being sought.
God gave me a teenage daughter last year. Talking about placing gems in my hands, this child is among the most precious.
Through her and our developing relationship as mother and daughter, I’ve also come to know the joy of giving pieces of my own hard-fought for wisdom to another who is collecting experiences along the rugged path of the teenage years.
And in that giving of myself and my gems of wisdom about life to her, I have come to understand the value of not only giving but also listening to her and seeing life through her perceptive eyes. There is gift in this, too.
This past Sunday, the ever-emerging theme of story came roaring to the forefront of my mind as I pieced together these unique life experiences of hearing and being heard, and I remembered anew that each of us is a living story God is writing as a piece of His greater story.
If that isn’t enough to slow us to a more careful amble rather than a full-force brisk step during interactions, I’m not sure what would.
What if we approached each other as such?
How would that change the way we listen, the way we respond, the way we work together?
If we really believed we were a part of one body, how would that play out in our everyday lives?
For me, it would look like slowing down, letting go of my own agenda, really listening instead of only hearing and then taking note of the holy ground into which I stepped before opening my mouth to speak.
Hyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and two girls and author of Undercover Mother.