The Listening Drought By Karen Spruill

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Occasionally, I wonder if I am really accomplishing much with the education that I have received. I have not recouped much of the financial investment that I have made over the years. I have only been engaged in 40-hour employment weeks for about seven years of my adult life. However, I realize there are other ways to determine outcome and success.

My husband and I make weekly phone calls to our parents. We also make regular phone calls to several of our brothers. I am realizing that some of my “faraway” cousins and their adult children are people struggling with stress and illnesses. Even though we don’t see each other very often, I can show my love and concern — thereby staying connected. I have come to believe that part of my calling at this point in life, is to reach out to family and neighbors. I can send cards, small gifts, make a phone call, and share research and encouragement by e-mail. Several of my younger cousins have thanked me for “listening.” That term applies now to use of our computers.

When I was younger and more heavily involved in the daily lives of my own children, I didn’t always have time to listen to other family members. And if I did, we were usually comparing notes on childcare. Over the past few years, often we are comparing notes about parent care. I have observed that young people don’t often believe that anyone wants to listen to them. They need the hope that their lives can change, they can recover from mistakes, and that “this too will pass.” Older and retired people don’t want to bother young families or they believe that the young ones don’t have time for them. The mature ones fear that their life stories will not be honored. We are in a listening drought.

I am reminded of my current place in life — the privilege of two part-time careers with counseling and writing. I appreciate the words of Titus 2: 2-6, MSG: “Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also guide the young men to live disciplined lives.” Priceless.  

Questions for personal journaling and group discussion:

1. Do you have a mentor or mentee? What area of your life could benefit from such a relationship?

2. How could you stay connected to a family member, neighbor or church member by the weekly use of 15 minutes?

Karen Spruill writes from Orlando, Florida. All rights reserved © 2011 Click here for content usage information.

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