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Archive for August 10th, 2011

Life Stories

When you ask someone to tell you their story, you have opened up a line of conversation that is intimate, clear and overflowing … with emotion and with sincerity. Being willing and available to hear their story is like imprinting yourself into their heart (and into their life).

This reality became so very true to me as I did home visits for a contract job this summer.

Each day I would knock on the door of a complete stranger, and they would welcome me in. Most times, their welcome was guarded, uneasy and downright awkward … for them, and for me.

And then one day I was heading to the home of an older lady, who I had heard might not be very friendly. This was not a visit I was looking forward to, so I decided to go with a plan. I figured if she was older, there would be photos … so I would ask about the people in them. And I figured you ‘catch more bees with honey’ so I would compliment at every opportunity. So, I drove to her home with my plan in my head. And, lo and behold, as I drove up, I noticed a tree in her garden that I have, but I didn’t know how or when to trim it.

As she came to the door, I introduced myself, and thanked her for allowing me to visit. Then I launched into (sincerely curious questions) about the tree. We chatted outside, then went inside, where I noticed her many family photos … grandbabies, children at various stages, family photos, and her deceased husband. It was then that I forgot about my ‘paid’ purpose in visiting her, and I listened fully to her stories of how her husband died, events surrounding it (with tears welling up in both of our eyes), and then bits and pieces of their life’s love story together. Eventually we did get to the ‘real’ reason for my being there …

My plan in doing home visits, with an intent of finding a connection I could make outside of my purpose for being there, became my daily goal. It combined my paid purpose for being in the homes, and my ability to listen, to really hear people. And I think it worked.

I heard stories of great vacations, dear relationships formed with International students, illnesses (and I am currently awaiting an email to tell me what a ladies mammogram results were), deaths, many stories of family love and loss and separation. There were stories of joy and sorrow and everything in between.

I am sure I have never spent so many hours each day in prayer, as I did during those two months. Most days I would leave a home, and then pray for that person, that family all the way to the next visit.

And then, as I met up with many of them the other day, I was greeted by hugs, smiles and warm greetings. And I knew, our relationships were not simply all about business, but we had made a heart connection with each other. All because they were allowed to tell their stories. I sat and listened, and they poured out a heaping cup of themselves to me.

And I was blessed.


			

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