I listen. It’s what I do. Oh, I can certainly talk a lot but I am also a very good listener. In a part of the world where being quiet and simple listening seems to be more and more unknown that gift of mine is especially needed. And so I listen. I listen until my head hurts from this foreign language and my heart and soul bleed from the stories and emotions that people pour into me. It’s not just one story, or one person. It are many. I take a while to process them and then store them away in my heart. They are safe there and to share a burden is always good, right? So here I am in this country that honestly sometimes really scares me for all kinds of reasons and I listen to stories of abuse of all kinds, rape, PTSD, substance abuse, death, pain and suffering on massive scales. I hold hands and offer hugs. I dry tears and know that these people don’t need council, they don’t need words of compassion or understanding. All they need is someone who listens, someone who takes those stories into their heart and holds them dear. Listening makes you tired. Listening in a language that is not your first can be exhausting. But it is so needed here and I guess that is my gift to the people of this country. I listen.
Do these stories affect me?
Of course they do. I am a very empathic person. I can feel the pain and the fear, the sadness and the panic. I can feel it all both while I listen and afterward. These stories are with me in my dreams and sometimes they make me cry. Cry because I don’t understand cruelty, I don’t understand fanatics, I don’t understand why some people need to hurt others. And I really don’t understand how people can live with these stories and just shrug and say: Well, life is not good.
I wish I could tell them that life is good. That it is wonderful. But who am I to do that? Who am I to share my small thoughts and offer my comfort when many of these people don’t believe that they need it? So often they don’t want to see, or cannot see how deeply they have been hurt and how much they need to accept that frailty in them, that pain. How I wish… No, I don’t want to take that pain from them because it makes them compassionate, no matter how much it tortures them. It makes them better. I don’t want to and cannot offer a solution.
What I can do instead is help them to accept their traumas for what they are: Wounds that will never fully heal… and that is okay. Hearts that were broken… and will never be unbroken. And also that is okay. Because a broken heart is not only damaged. It is also open. Open to give and open to receive. A wounded human being is compassionate and good, as long as that person accepts their wounds and sees and loves that openness of their heart. I so wish I could teach these people that they are worthy in their brokenness, that they are strong in their weakness and brave in their fear. Because only a broken heart is open enough to receive the gift of life and companionship, the gift of God’s love to the fullest.
Your frailty is what makes God love you more. It nothing to ever be ashamed of.