I recently had a great opportunity to go on a weekend retreat. It has had the greatest impact on my life. The lessons learned there taught me things I needed to know and learn and as I go forward I am learning more and more from that experience. I love it when we take the time to do hard things it continues to enrich long after the event.
There were many wonderful things learned, but one that I have been thinking a lot about are the Stories everyone has. Everyone has a story, but often we never take the time to learn the story. And often we tell ourselves their story, making it up as we go to justify how we feel or to make us feel better about how we feel about them.
When we take a moment and learn the real story about someone or something, the whole story changes and our lives changes in the process. Knowing the entire true story makes so much difference in how we perceive and treat others.
As a young man I worked in a restaurant in Northern Arizona. My boss was a good man. Actually I adored him in every way. When it was slow at night we would talk for hours and he would share his life with me and I learned things about him that I never would have learned or even guessed had we not taken the time to share. In his mind he was just telling me stories, talking to pass the time, but in the process I learned some great lessons. The stories he told me about his marriage made a great impact on me. The stories he told me about choices he had made effected me deeply and left in me a greater desire to be a better person.
Learning about his life changed my life and left a lasting impression on me. When I left working for him to serve a mission for the LDS church he would write me letters and at the bottom of each letter he would write in bold letters. "Learn to Listen". That statement from him has taught me again and again how important it is to listen. It is so funny how often times little things done without thinking can change lives. I don't know if he really understands the impact he had on my life and the impact of knowing the whole story has changed my story. For 35 years I have thought about that statement, Learn to Listen, and I have applied it to so many things.
Learn to Listen, how great life would be if we could Learn to Listen to the stories of those around us. Spoken and unspoken. Both could be profound in so many ways. Unspoken stories are sometimes the most revealing and powerful. When we take time to Listen to what is not being said and learn to respond to those stories it can have life changing results. I am trying to be better at that. When we Listen with our eyes and our hearts much can be learned about a person. Often times we ignore the real message because we judge by what we see or think we know before we listen to the real story.
Learning to listen takes work. The first thing we need to do is to keep quit. Close our mouths and listen with our hearts open and accepting. Everyone has a story and when we hear and FEEL that story our lives are changed. Not only are our lives changed, but importantly we can change the life of the person telling the story and sometimes the miracle is in the listening.
In every part of my life I am surrounded by stories. Some of the stories bring me tears, others bring me joy, but the most important thing that happens to me is understanding. I am able to look at each person with a deeper love and acceptance as I come to understand they have a story and their story is why they are the way they are.
When I think of the Savior and how he can love us unconditionally, I think it has to do with the fact that he knows our story. He knows what we have been through. He knows all the heart ache we feel, the joys and sorrows that have made us who we are and no matter how messy, he sees the complete story and because of that he is able to love us completely. Through his grace we can learn the stories of those that are placed in our path and through that knowledge we can lift and love in a deeper more meaningful way.
Learning to Listen is one of the most powerful ways to build relationships and friendships that are meaningful and powerful in that when we know the story we can love deeper and we have the ability to lift higher and are hearts are filled with compassion and understanding.
Just one last thought, learning to listen is so important, equally important is letting others listen to your story. If you have challenges in your life with people, maybe they need to hear your story. It is not enough to learn their story, they just might need to hear yours and especially if they are trying to listen.
Everyone, including you has a story and each story is different and wonderful and worth hearing.
LEARN TO LISTEN and your life will be filled with richness and joy. As as you listen, love and lift, in the process your compassion and understanding will increase.
Have a joyful day.