For me, 2014 has been a tough year. I’ve developed some autoimmune diseases and have been hospitalized twice. During the summer, my mom dislocated her replacement hip and I needed to spend some time looking after her. I’m afraid my friends think I am becoming “Debbie Downer.” It’s been a difficult time.
So when someone asks how I am–and really means it–and is willing to listen and ask questions and offer support, I am very grateful. It has made me aware of how often we get caught up in our own stuff and what is going on in our own heads. Many of us are too busy or overwhelmed to take the time or spend any energy on other people. Really listening and paying attention to someone else is an unselfish, extravagant gift. It takes time and it makes you vulnerable … you may hear painful stories, you may sit in silence with someone who is crying and needs the presence of another soul at that moment. You may be asked to give more than you were prepared to give.
I hope that I have learned from this year. I hope I will be more present and kind since now I know how deeply those two things can affect someone who feels pain or worry.
I also learned this and I hope it will stay with me: I am very grateful for the many people who have offered me such gracious support and help. I am grateful for the health I have, even though on some days it doesn’t feel like enough. I am grateful for God’s magnificent love.
Kate Elliott is editor of Gather magazine.
Photo by Michael and Sarah Braun. Used with permission.