I’m a word person. Strangely enough, this can sometimes be a hazard in communication. I’ve noticed that I sometimes get hung up on the words someone says rather than what they’re actually saying. It’s a “can’t see the forest for the trees” kind of problem.
For example, last week in a meeting someone asked if I could highlight the most relevant entries on a chart. My brain immediately went to my difficulties with Excel and the fact that I’d just a bit earlier tried to highlight something on that very chart but I couldn’t get the color of that cell to change and so I wasn’t actually sure if I could highlight anything and I didn’t want to promise something I couldn’t deliver…and…and…and only later did I realize that what they were really asking was ‘can you somehow mark the parts you think we need to see’ which, of course, I could. (And did.)
I also figured out the highlighting problem, but that’s neither here nor there. The issue was, I was listening to the words and not the message they meant to convey.
So with this realization fresh in my mind, I went off to The Revolve Tour. Friday night I sat directly in front of a group of about a dozen girls; I’d guess they were in the thirteen- to fifteen-year-old range. As the event got started, I eavesdropped on the conversation behind me. (Not that I really had a choice at that range, but I have to confess didn’t even try not to listen.)
As Jenna began to lead the girls through an exercise in imagination, the girl directly behind me started talking. She spouted off random words and phrases, clearly not interested in playing along. If I had listened only to her words, I would have thought she was a disagreeable brat.
But this time I decided to listen to the message instead. And what I heard was a girl who was scared. She was afraid to close her eyes and open her heart. She was afraid if she stopped talking, she might have to let down her guard and let someone in.
I don’t know her story. I don’t know exactly what she was holding down or holding back. But I do know what it’s like to put up walls because you’re terrified of what will happen if you don’t. So instead of sitting there getting irritated with the blather, I sat there and prayed for this precious child who needed to hear how very much God loves her.
I don’t have a neat little ending to this story. I don’t know what happened. She did quiet down as the evening went on; I hope she was listening. More than that, I hope she managed to hear the message behind the words.