I am excited today to introduce my friend, Andrea Stunz, from Empty Plate Full Heart as a guest blogger! Andrea and I met through our opportunity of being part of the book launch team for Jen Hatmaker’s, For the Love. She is full of inspiring stories and I am extremely grateful to have her here to share one of those stories with you today!
We all long to be seen. You can’t see in the dark.
We need to turn the lamp on.
One way I have practiced my listening skills is to make sure I notice someone’s eye color when having a conversation. I’m not super great about listening. Let’s face it, I’m not great at communicating. I learned how to bake cookies like no other but communicating? That escaped me somehow. I’m an introvert and a recovering perfectionist with a mild case of self-diagnosed ADD so that makes me not great at talking, constantly afraid of saying the wrong thing and ridiculously distractable. This is precisely why I like writing. I can edit here. Once the words are spoken, they can’t be edited. They are out of the tube like toothpaste. No going back. The distraction element is what prompted me to start practicing eye contact a few years ago and the best way I could do that was to make sure I noticed and noted the eye color of who I was with.
Before I started my little eye color listening trick, when I was talking to someone, I might be formulating what I would need to say next, anticipating what they might say next so I could respond without sounding like an idiot or well, not listening. Not really listening. I’ve since learned that it’s ok to be quiet. It’s ok to not have words lined up. It’s ok to listen just for the sake of listening.
Sometimes when I’m checking out eye colors (aka listening) I remind myself that I’m not just listening to their words, I’m listening to their soul. Again, I’m not so great at this and I’m still very much a work in progress so if you sit and talk with me please don’t think I have this down. My insecurities often get the better of me and I fail miserably.
I recently had the privilege of visiting with a friend who is hurting. I shared with her some of my own hurts as well. I say “privilege” because anytime we can share our stories with one another, even our painful ones and maybe especially our painful ones, it offers another layer of healing and knowing we aren’t alone. A common factor for both of us was how alone we have at times felt in our hurts and how hope-giving it is to be heard. To be seen. We agreed that we can’t fix whatever the circumstances are, we can’t redeem this, it is beyond our skill set since we’re not in the miracle working business, but we can listen. We can see each other. We can be light in the darkness.
As I pondered this post, this devotional came up on the first5 app (Do you have this app yet? If not, you need to get it!). The devotional was about light and darkness.
John 12:46 “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”
Light is life. Darkness is death. For various reasons, including a horrendous snake bite experience, I’m not a fan of the dark. If my husband didn’t like to sleep in a completely dark room dark, I would leave the closet light on. You can bet that I always have a flashlight nearby. Sometimes when I have a particularly fearful time of it I just have to get up, go to the other room and turn the lamp on. Light pierces the darkness. Where light is, darkness simply cannot be. With Jesus’ light we don’t have to stay in darkness. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 6:22 May my eyes, your eyes be the lamp of our bodies. Healthy and full of light. May my eyes be the lamp that someone needed to turn on in their darkness.
Lord, help me to receive your light and life today and be light and life to others. Amen
Here’s our assignment for today (or for whenever you happen to read this post)… pay attention to eye color of those you chat with. The checkout lady at the grocery store, the person you have coffee with, your kids, your spouse, your neighbor. Don’t just notice the color of their eyes, notice the color of their souls.
Listen with your eyes.
Andrea Stunz is a wife of 26 years (and counting) and a mom to three amazing gifts from God. She is also a blessed mother in law and a ridiculously proud grandmother. Andrea is a Christ-follower, storyteller, seeker, writer and a stumbling pilgrim in need of grace. She loves sunrises, cooking and sharing good food and enjoys capturing stories through the camera lens as often as possible. Andrea finds peace, comfort and hope in knowing that “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17 You can find more of Andrea’s writings at www.emptyplatefullheart.com