Visiting his grandmother was one of his favorite things to do. She would never fail to have things planned for them to do. She had games and toys unlike those at home. She would say they were from “the olden days”, but more than that she had other games she played with him like “Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button”.
Then there would be the homemade cookies, often still warm from the oven that she always had waiting for him as well. No matter what she may have needed to do that day, she appeared to always have time for play with him.
His very favorite part was when she would pull out a selection of old storybooks that she had read to his mother. He would sit close beside her on the couch or snuggle on her lap, as she would read through the worn pages. Sometimes she would read two or three from the stack on the floor beside them.
She asked him questions about his day and week and never seemed to tire of him telling her about the kids at school, the tree house he and his dad were building in the back of his yard, or the adventures he dreamed of taking one day.
Over time, the games changed and he no longer sat on her lap to hear her read stories. Instead they simply talked about anything and everything. She still wanted to listen to him and hear the latest news of his life, but one day he discovered something he had missed before. He discovered that his grandmother had stories of her own to tell.
As he listened he began to learn about her life as a child, about walking to her one room school in the snow, about riding to church with her family in a buggy drawn by a horse, and how she and her dad had put pennies on the railroad track when the train carrying a dead president had passed near their home.
Her stories took him to other times and places, but most of all they gave him a glimpse into the life and heart of this woman who had listened to him all these years. During their visits, he began to enjoy this part the most and preferred to hear her own stories, laugh with her, see her eyes well up in tears at other times, or feel comfortable with the silence that would sometimes fall between them.
You see, listening, learning to listen, is an act of love.
When we listen, we learn the stories of the lives of others. We grow in empathy and understanding of lives that are not our own and in doing so, we sometimes even come to understand our own better.
In his book, A Whole New Mind, Daniel H. Pink writes:
“…stories can provide—context enriched by emotion, a deeper understanding of how we fit in and why that matters. The Conceptual Age can remind us what has always been true but rarely acted upon—that we must listen to each other’s stories and that we are each the authors of our own lives.”
The truth is that most of our experiences, our knowledge, and our thinking is organized into stories. Stories help us remember.
In this fast-paced age of social media, we can lose patience for listening, for hearing the stories. We devalue a precious gift.
Jesus knew the value of stories. He told us stories to remind us of the truths and principles for living that He wanted to bury deep in our hearts and minds. He also took time to listen to the stories of others no matter how few the words.
He left us a gift in those stories told so many years ago. The gift points the way to Him and shows us how to live.
It was an act of His love for us.
He is the very best of listeners and He loves to listen to His children tell Him about their day, what they are dreaming of or hoping for, what hurts or haunts them.
Your story matters to Him.
Never diminish it.
Who are you listening to?
What stories are you hearing?