I met Jodi Grubbs at a video shoot for Hope Writers. Her kindness and joy were apparent from our first encounter. When we shared a cup of coffee that day (for a photograph) I knew that we were kindred spirits. But it was when she shared on social media about a recent women gathering I knew that she needed to share this story on our Seen and Heard Series. And what a blessing it is!
The Gift of Co-Listening
It has been said that having someone hear you, truly hear you, without words and thoughts immediately being returned upon you, is one of the most beautiful experiences one can have. OK, maybe that’s my own way of saying it. But I believe it’s true.
Most of us want to be heard without the listener giving advice, sighs, criticism or platitudes. Whether the subject matter is big or little, having another human being take in what you are saying can literally be healing.
It’s what I want. Is it true for you too, perhaps? I sense that it is.
A couple of months ago I had the unbelievable pleasure of spending the weekend with (almost) all strangers. We spent chunks of time circled around, slippers on, coffee in hand, all the while, wearing our heart on our sleeves in this cozy home setting.
We found ourselves in a safe space surrounded by safe people. I will call our facilitator a soul carer, because that is what she really was.
I did not realize at first, that walking through precious pockets of time - where time itself stood still, would heal the soul. But I quickly learned.
The magic that happened among us was not because wisdom was given, deep words were spoken or even solid answers were dancing in front of us.
It was in the silence that the beauty unfolded for each one of us.
Time and space seemed to pause as we took long turns listening to each person, with not so much as a raised hand, an Amen or a good word.
I’m not saying those actions are wrong, but in the setting of co-listening or coming alongside of one another, silence was our golden key here.
Some words were uttered out loud for the first time. Ever.
To be able to speak words and articulate thoughts that might have never been uttered before, while looking into the faces of women who were strangers just the day before, was beyond incredible.
Each person knew that boldness, risk, vulnerability and trust were swirling in the room all around us and between us.
Unseen, but nevertheless felt.
This was new for me. To be in a place of unraveling, of pondering, of knowing, of “me too,” but nodding in agreement with our eyes and not our voice or body.
To have the floor, so to speak, when it was your turn. It’s a natural tendency for us to want to rescue others with our ideas and words. It takes a shifting to relax, to be unhurried and give someone’s shot of private restoration a chance.
But being still together is powerful.
To experience the freedom of expressing your deepest wounds and joys without feeling the need to be defensive. A figurative table where you have a seat with your name on it, just because.
With no need to explain yourself to anyone, you find that you are seen and heard.
And that is enough.
These little flashes of delight, of co-listening can also be experienced with just one or two friends, right in your hometown.
It might be during early Spring, while sitting in lawn chairs under an old oak tree.
It can be experienced on a girls weekend, while walking on the beach together. Making footprints in the sand and letting words get caught up in the wind and blown out to sea. Or maybe it’ll be during winter, while you are curled up on a couch, holding a glass of wine or cradling a cup of hot tea.
Let each others words flow until there are no more.
Co-listening in this busy world might even be possible (gasp!) in the back rooms of Instagram or on Voxer. Simply acknowledging a friend with a text saying, “I hear you” or a voice message saying, “I see you” may be enough.
I know, because these are all of my moments of real life co-listening. I have been both the quiet listener as well as the one exposing my heart with so many jumbled words.
These sacred experiences are what I call community for your soul.
We hear a lot about grace. In devotionals, on Instagram, in the church.
But grace and space truly are what will be required to put another person’s needs front and center and offer healing. The listening kind of healing that gives freedom to the speaker.
Sometimes talking out loud is all that is needed to feel validated. Sometimes the quiet that follows someone’s words is the gift.
If we at times are silent before our Creator, so as to hear Him well, doesn’t it also make sense to be still with others?
How about you, friend?
Do you crave listeners more than you require answers?
Are you willing to bravely walk through the uncomfortableness of not giving an opinion? I am so grateful for my co-listeners. They build my confidence with their silence while helping me feel not so alone. I want this experience for you too!
Your friend around the table, Jodi