Helping others be thankful by learning, part 2 of 4
This four-part column series began last week when I shared that listening is a way to help others feel thankful. This week I suggest that learning is the second way to help others feel thankful at this time of year.
When it comes to learning, Ben Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
Franklin is right. Learning is an activity. It is an intent and an investment. Like listening, learning requires full-on participation and engagement.
Last week, I wrote if we listen (with an agenda of focused listening) then others can feel thankful. The same is true for learning. When we learn from others, that is, when we take listening one step further and actually learn with and from someone else, then thankfulness becomes twofold. The listener feels blessed. They’ve gained. The one sharing is blessed, too, because they are understood.
Too often we come “at” each other. We bump into or all-out collide with others. Sometimes we do this intentionally, sometimes not intentionally.
In contrast, walking with (not toward) each other is both gentle and kind. Differences may always exist between two or more people. These differences can be so good sometimes.
Yet even (or especially) in our differences, we can learn from each other because when we learn from each other, gaps close. Divides diminish. Connections that didn’t exist or were weak become strong.
When we connect with someone, and it doesn’t have to be with an acquaintance or friend, this can be someone you have just met, we hear things when we’re careful and attentive. Being careful and attentive speaks in part to the first part of this column series which began last week.
We begin to hear things when we connect with someone else. As information is shared and the information gets more intimate or more grounding, a bigger picture appears. We sense things when we’re hearing what is shared. This is a time to consider where or how God is in the life of the person we are talking with. Peppering conversations with “God is so good” can be appropriate, even welcomed. This isn’t always the case with everyone, however.
What can be so good is when we learn together where and how God is. It only takes a bit of intentionality to consider where God is—and where we are with God—when you talk.
Here’s an example. Your friend Mason has it really rough with a work-related situation. The “God is so good,” comment is not appropriate in the moment. Sharing any blanket comment about how great God is does not always connect us. In fact, it may be the opposite.
As Mason shares his situation, you have the time to not only hear but also feel his issues, concerns, or hard places. You are not just listening to Mason; you are also learning Mason. You are learning from Mason because he is telling you information not only about the situation but also himself. It is in this place that you two can experience God’s presence in the conversation.
You may not outwardly mention God during this experience (or connection), at least at first. But as Mason continues, you can love on him as God loves on him.
Flip it. Consider the time or times someone really listened to you and, as a result, they really learned something about you. The person who heard you didn’t judge you. They didn’t drop their two-ton load of advice on you and drive off. They intently held you and the words you were sharing. They were not silent. Instead, they completely let you share what you needed to share.
That moment is a God moment. It’s a gentle and guiding assurance of God’s presence, even if you never speak of God in the moment.
I offer this because God is love, and love is God (1 John 4:7-12). Love is what is extended and received in moments where listening and learning are involved.
As we move closer to Thanksgiving, be thankful for the times you have been truly and deeply heard. In turn, listen and learn in an upcoming connection you can have so that others can be truly and deeply heard at this time of the year.