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Anyone who says that they love change, in my not-so-humble opinion, is speaking from a position of power.  This is someone who is generally the engine of change. This is not the person who suddenly finds themselves looking for a new doctor since their old one is no longer or their insurance plan.  This is not the woman who learns that she is no longer on Medicaid.

Even positive change is hard if for no other reason than the fact that we need to learn change is needed.

This morning I listened to episode three of “Uncomforable Conversations with a Black Man,” a Youtube show with retired NFL player Emmanuel Acho.  Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper talked about discussing race with their kids.  “We want them to be color blind.”

This is something that you hear white people say.  But Acho explained why that is not what black people want.  It is not what they need.  Instead we need to see people and their cultures and respect them.

I don’t know if Acho and his guests “pre-discuss” the various topics they plan to cover or if it is truly candid, but neither Chip or Joanna batted an eye.  They listened, they heard, and they put in the effort to understand.

We aren’t at the Tower of Babel but sometimes it feels like we may as well be.  For years, the dominant society has been told that things are not fair.  Given how well it was heard, you’d think it was said in a different language.

It is time to listen.  It is time to do.  It isn’t going to be comfortable but God is with us every step of the way.



I’m starting to think I’m just not being heard. I send emails that get no replies. I ask questions that get no answers. I listen…and listen…and listen to what others have to say, but when I speak up, nobody has time. Or patience. Hello? Is anybody out there? Is this mic on?

We spend our lives — from newborn shrieks to deathbed confessions — trying to be heard. Why? What makes us so important? Nothing…and everything. We are, to ourselves anyway, infinitely important. But out there in the world? You’ve got millions of voices, all competing to be the loudest, the most heeded. What are the odds of an introvert winning that competition?

Once, long ago, a friend at work convinced me to join her in a primal scream. It was very satisfying…except to the company’s security guard who had no idea we were just trying to vent our frustrations. Oops.

If you want to be heard — really heard — you have to turn to prayer. Or poetry.

Even before I open my mouth
my confession is out there. Phrases thudding,
homely, unscrubbed as orphans. Pathetic, crude words
with sharp edges and blunt, dumb sounds.
Big, lumpy, dirt-encrusted words. They fall from me
like a curse, like the girl in the fairy tale
fated to speak in snakes and other slippery critters.
Who hears such ugly offerings?
Only one. The one we turn deaf ears to,
despite the shouts of sunsets, the “Hear this!”
of the scent of night jasmine. The one who calls us
to listen. For in listening, we will be heard. At last.

If I’ve learned anything during my years on this planet, it’s this: People just want to be heard. It’s a need more pressing than money or fame, though it has its hand in both. Money and fame grant the stature that accords recognition. But no matter what the means to an end, the end is the same: Here I am! Hear me!

Maybe I have a kind face; I don’t know, but people tend to talk to me: in checkout lines, parking lots, and public spaces. They tell me their stories. They don’t always need me to reciprocate, or even to validate…simply to listen.

I think many horrible tragedies might have been averted if only someone had listened to someone else. School shootings, for instance. Clearly, the shooters in these instances are trying to get people to listen to them, to understand something about them. Had someone encouraged them to bare their souls in advance, might things have gone differently? Maybe. Maybe not. No one can make someone else talk. And some people are in such pain (or delusion) that words no longer suffice. But you never know.

What I do know is that from online comment sections to newspaper opinion pages, people want their thoughts, feelings and experiences to be witnessed. Some just like the sound of their own voices (I’m looking at you, Internet trolls), others are angry about a particular issue. Some are crying out for understanding. And some (like the Westboro Baptist Church) still believe, toddler-like, that negative attention is better than no attention at all. But everybody wants to be heard.

We are quick to dismiss people whose opinions are not our own. Just write a blog post, and you’ll see what I mean. For every reasoned argument, there is an equal and opposite argument. Finding two people who agree on everything is less likely than finding a ruby in your Cracker Jacks box. But that doesn’t stop us from arguing, emoting, pontificating or just reaching out for a friendly ear.

I wish there were a place where anyone who wanted to be heard could say whatever he or she pleased and know that he (or she) had been well and truly heard. It might make the world a more peaceable place. Luckily, I know the very best listener there has ever been — God. You can ramble all you want, talk up a storm, and He will listen with patience and care. Only two problems present themselves: You can’t see God, and you can’t hear His response to you, at least not aurally.

This is where faith comes in. You just have to KNOW that He is listening. And you have to believe that if a response is needed, one will come. It may not be the response you want. Its arrival may not adhere to your desired timeframe. But it will come.

Unfortunately, this is also where the system breaks down. We are not a patient people. We want everything now. So, if you can’t wait, if you need an ear (albeit a fallible, human one) then find someone, anyone. There is, I promise, someone out there who will listen to you. Or just look for me in a parking lot or checkout line. I’ll be the one with the listening eyes. I promise I will do my best to hear you.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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