Listen With Your Heart
“Will you tell me what’s wrong?” my husband asked. His brows bundled together between his eyes and his voice was saturated with concern. In my attempt to be strong, I had resolved to sort through some major struggles on my own so as not to worry him. But alas, try as I might, I’m just not made to handle heart-heavy stuff by myself. No one is. So in the days and weeks it was taking me to sort through my issues, I was increasingly becoming more distant, more troubled, more cloaked in darkness. It was exactly the opposite of what I’d intended to do.
My intention was to talk myself through my troubles. To fake it till I make it. But every day, my problems stared me in the face until my teeth ground themselves to dust. And, every night, I’d be in worse shape than I was the day before.
It reminded me of a scene from the Miracle Worker, a film based on the life of Helen Keller. In this particular scene, young Helen Keller rushed into the dining room in a fit of rage. Her grandmother was feeding her younger sibling when Helen tore through the room like the Tasmanian Devil. She spun about the room, grasping for things to guide her – the table, the chair, and eventually her grandmother. Helen’s hands ripped furiously at the old woman’s blouse, tearing buttons from her chest.
“She’s a monster!” the grandmother shouted. “A wild animal!”
The whole house was in an uproar. Even Helen’s brother and father rushed in to witness the scene and throw a harsh insult at Helen’s deaf ears.
But instead of jumping to conclusions about Helen’s innate devilishness and perpetual chaos, Helen’s mother recognized that the girl was in the dark. And, in one of the greatest acts of love anyone can give another, she listened with her heart.
“Helen wants to use those buttons to make eyes for her doll,” she said. “She wants to give her doll something that she doesn’t have.”
When her mother sewed buttons onto the doll in the next scene, Helen embraced her stuffed friend with a new sense of peace and tranquility.
Even though Helen could not speak, one woman heard what she had to say.
Even though Helen could not see, one woman saw her heart.
Even though Helen could not hear, one woman listened to her.
And that act of listening changed Helen’s life and calmed her hurting heart.
“Please,” my husband pleaded. “Please tell me what’s going on.”
In that moment, I realized I had been like Helen—blind, deaf, and dumb. I was blinded by my foolish trust in the Lie that I could and should handle my hurt all by myself. I was deaf to the Truth that we are built for connecting with others and asking for help. And I was muted by my choice to believe the Lie over the Truth.
And I was in a very dark place.
But when my husband swung the door open into my little cell and shed light on my face, he soothed my aching heart. My problems were not solved, but my burden was lighter. Bearable, even. Because his heart cried out to mine and truly listened to the response.
In this world of busyness and individuality, it seems people feel most powerful when they’re the loudest. Just turn on the tube and watch some reality TV or a show about politics to witness it for yourself. Or perhaps you know someone in real life who communicates that way. The loudest are the ones who “win”. They are the ones who are “right”. They’re the ones whose stories and opinions get heard above all the others.
But, without words, Helen spoke louder than they do. And, like Helen’s mother, we have the power to change people’s lives when we’re listening.
There’s nothing more powerful than that.