I was able to spend a good part of yesterday with my baby sister, Karen, known to me as KaKa. It’s been a while since we spent a lot of time with each other and I don’t like that. I promise to do better. Anyway, she had to go out to my local hospital for some tests and I met her there. When she was finished, we decided to go out to the lake for lunch at a Mexican restaurant. We laughed for a while about what I was supposed to do with the lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream that they had put in a really neat little circle in the middle of my already-cut Quesadillas (I never know what you are supposed to do with that – it’s not a salad and you can’t open the Quesadillas up to put it in them, it’s hard to just pile it on top of the individual slices so, do you just eat it? I never know how to treat that pile of stuff so I usually just move it around a bit so the server will think that I ate it.). I know this is far from being politically correct, but I told KaKa I needed to watch one of the Mexicans who worked there eat some so I would understand what to do with it. After KaKa “ate at” her Chimichangas, we just sat and talked — mostly about our childhoods.
KaKa is eight years younger than I am and, unfortunately, she doesn’t remember a lot of her childhood. I left home at the end of my junior year when I was only sixteen which means she was eight and was living an entirely different life than I was living. She was still a kid, enjoying life and playing with her friends, while I was deep in a raging battle with my father. I learned that she really had no clue what was going on with us, and for that I am glad. In a way. But, of course, I also wish that she could remember the terrible battles in order to validate my memories and my feelings. For some reason, that validation is still important to me. I was told so many times by Dad that I didn’t know what I was talking about so I sometimes wonder if he was right. Did all that really happen to me? Why did I let it happen? Why did he let it happen? Or, more importantly, why did he make it happen? The more I think about those times, the more confused I become.
The most important thing that happened at that lunch was that KaKa did not judge me. She just listened to me. And that was what I needed. In looking at our lunch and the way KaKa just listened, I got a bit of deja-vu. You see, early yesterday morning, my dear friend, Deanna, posted a poem on Facebook about listening and its importance. I’m sure you’ve probably read it before, but it’s worth reading again. Listening is something that is extremely important to all, but is vital to someone filled with doubt, guilt, and with that terrible thing called self-condemnation.
“When I ask you to listen to me
and you start giving me advice,
you have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me
and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do something
to solve my problem, you have failed me,
strange as that may seem.
All I ask is that you listen.
Don’t talk or do – just hear me.
Advice is cheap – 20 cents will get you both
Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper.
And I can do for myself; I am not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.
When you do something for me that I can
and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.
But when you accept as a simple fact
that I feel what I feel, no matter how irrational,
then I can stop trying to convince you
and get about this business of understanding
what’s behind this irrational feeling.
And when that’s clear, the answers are obvious
and I don’t need advice.
Irrational feelings make sense
when we understand what’s behind them.
Perhaps that’s why prayer works sometimes
for some people, because God is mute
and He doesn’t give advice or try to fix things.
God just listens and lets you work it out for yourself.
So please listen, and just hear me.
And if you want to talk,
wait a minute for your turn,
and I will listen to you.”
Isn’t that what it’s all about? Listening to others. Not telling them what to do. Not telling them how to feel. Not fixing their problems. Just be there. Listen to what they say. Love them no matter how they feel or no matter what they say. Just listen.
Kaka did an excellent job yesterday of just listening. Thank you, little sister, for listening to me. I love you.
THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS: The lunch with KaKa was just what I needed. And the fact that Deanna had posted that poem that very morning was another one of those “signs” that remind me I’m on the right track.
TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER: I’m tired. Go figure. That’s nothing new. Tired, but optimistic. Looking forward to church tomorrow and to our local Memorial Day service on Monday. A dear, dear friend of mine will be making an address and I’m so very proud of him. We have many things to be thankful for in our country, and our military is right up there near the very top of my list. Monday will be a day for us to remember those who gave their all. May they Rest in Peace as we salute their service.