TO LISTEN

I’m learning to listen. Learning to quit forcing what I think is right and what I want and what I feel adds value to my life and just listen. Which is no easy task. Not in the least. Listening to what’s whispering and tugging inside of us is a ridiculous feat. Some are gifted with this superhuman ability more than others. I am not one of them. I don’t listen until the steel beam smashes into my chest and knocks me back past the last ten steps of my life. And then I look up, stupefied, wondering what the hell just happened like an idiot… blinking back tears.

“Shoulda listened…”

Yeah. I should have.

“So are you just gonna sit there and cry?”

Right now, yes. Do you have a problem with that?

“It’s just pitiful is all.”

Fuck off.

And thus continues the cycle of my life. But there’s hope on the horizon. I think I’m getting it now. Listening. I’m suppose to listen better. Obviously there’s no guarantee that if I listen more closely I’ll hurt less. A girl can try though. Now that a girl sees it and gets it. Listen… even if it’s just to stop hurting the people around me. I can get on board with anything if it’s self-sacrifice for other people.

Sometimes I wonder how much would be different if I’d listened in those crucial moments of my life. If I’d actually stopped holding so tightly to what I didn’t want to lose and instead opened my hands and tuned my ears to hear that voice… to notice that tug. There’s a chance everything would still be the same. But there are some odds stacked in the other corner too. Odds that I wouldn’t have lost what I didn’t want to lose, or that I wouldn’t have lost it in the same way or for the same duration.

Two weeks before being fired from my job as a barista managing a local specialty coffee shop, a former coworker and friend of mine sat me down. He had spent some time listening to God and with a silly, happy-go-lucky smile on his face he told me “Lexie, I felt like God was telling me to tell you it’s time for you to move on and do your own thing.”

I had worked circles around that job for three years… poured everything I had into it. I gave that place 300% of myself. Because that’s just how I work when I believe in the purpose and love what I’m doing. And here was little curly-haired, bearded, Jesus-loving ginger Matt telling me what I didn’t want to hear, but what my heart told me was right. But no… there was no way I was going to leave. That was my community, my purpose, my heart… How could I leave something that had been so good for me? How could I leave that security and opportunity? I mean yeah things had been tense between the owner and me for a few months… but it could be fixed, right? I’d respected and looked up to this man for three years, of course I have enough of a relationship with him to resolve the conflict.

I should have listened. Two weeks later after a meeting where I tried to resolve whatever it was going on between us, I heard those words.

“I see no option but to let you go.”

I should have listened. And I’ve been kicking myself every day since for not listening to Matt. I could have put in my two weeks, left on good terms, left with some dignity instead of walking out of the shop with one of my own friends incapable of looking at me. I could have had a chance to say goodbye to customers and coworkers and move on healthily.

So when I look back over the years of my life and my eyes catch glimpses of those painful moments, the moments when something I loved was ripped away, I see the tug that I ignored. It’s clear how little I wanted to listen to it. And had I listened, maybe I would have hurt less people. Including myself. Maybe. But I’m working on it.

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