When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.

Henri Nouwen

This is an ongoing lesson for myself that I continually need to learn. There are and have been very few people in my life who I’m completely at ease with when there is a block of silence between us. I can actually count on one hand the number of people. Being an introvert at heart I am completely at ease with silence myself and I completely understand that I am using this as an excuse and it is ALSO something I continually need to focus on but with my speech challenge I sometimes choose to remain silent then open my mouth for fear of not being able to express myself clearly. I’m constantly reminded of the saying:
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

I completely understand this is all in my head and it’s something I need to work on especially with new people I meet. My longtime friends understand my challenges and it doesn’t bother them. It DOES bother me when I KNOW what I want to say but I simply can’t get the words out.

OK as is sometimes the case here I detoured a bit from the original intent for this column today. Back on course:
Do you have someone in your life that doesn’t have to give advice at every turn, doesn’t have to offer solutions to your challenges and can simply BE in the silence? If you’re fortunate to have such a friend, then hold onto them because they are few and far between. We all need to understand that every despair, every confused thought voiced, every bit of grief doesn’t necessarily need a solution. Your friend may simply want to be heard without prejudice without an empty platitude. She may just want a shoulder to lean on, an ear to bend or a friendly smile.

What are you doing to listen today?
Are you listening today without offering advice?
Maybe that’s JUST what the doctor ordered. Maybe that’s JUST what your friend needs.

Be Happy! Be Well! Be Positive!
Blessings to you.

Chris

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