“I heard the doctor,” he said, lifting his head from the stretcher. “But who else is going to shovel it? The squirrels?”
“I could have done it,” she said.
“No,” he replied. “I always shovel the driveway.”
“Hearing” and “listening” play interesting roles in the lives of people who live with chronic health conditions. From the day of diagnosis, many people, especially those with serious illnesses, might sit in a doctor’s office, hearing what he or she is saying, but not really “listen,” that is, take all the information in and act upon or believe/accept it all. Sometimes, it helps to have a loved one sit in on the appointments; he or she might be able to “hear and listen to” everything with a more objective ear. But, even so, often it takes a long time before all of the information “sinks in.”
Why is that?
Perhaps it has something to do with our internal optimism. “Things can’t/aren’t really that bad.” “The doctor is just trying to scare me.” “I don’t feel as bad as the doctor is saying.”
In my book “Peace in the Storm,” I talk about denial, that part of us that doesn’t want to believe we’re really sick. And, how denial doesn’t fall away all at once, but rather is peeled away layer by layer, much like an onion and with the same effects as the onion, causing us to weep a little every time a layer goes and the more pungent, “real” onion is exposed.
How do we handle this seesawing between “hearing” and “listening?” And how do we make sure we do what’s most healthy, despite our denial?
In our most vulnerable, we gain great support from our loved ones. They care, and in their caring, they can help us see truth even before we accept it. And, too, we can spend more time in prayer. Asking God for the ears to hear AND the heart to listen is a powerful way to open ourselves to what will be most true and most healthful.
We’re human. We’ll be in denial at times. But we’ll also be in good stead when we turn to God and our loved ones to help us more fully hear and truly listen.
Blessings for the day.