Well, yes, we do don’t we?
Whether or not this a good thing is all a matter of opinion. What has been shown is that girls develop the right side of their brains faster than boys and this leads to talking earlier. Little girls also prefer toys with faces, boys prefer brightly coloured blocks. Far be it from me to draw any conclusions from these findings….
In the last two weeks I have had two really helpful conversations with female friends*. A lot of conversations begin ‘How are you?’ but only very rarely is that question posed by someone who really has the time and patience to hear a full answer.
At the end of my first conversation I felt like I had presented myself to my friend as a basket of crumpled damp washing. As I talked and she listened skillfully and we unpacked my basket. Nothing came out in the right order, socks were missing, small items were hidden in bigger items, the stuff at the bottom had been over-looked for so long it was starting to whiff.
By the end of the conversation she offered to pray for me (her ‘basket case’?) and I felt as if she gently lifted each item up one by one, carefully stretching it out on the washing line to bask in the light of being acknowledged. This was immensely helpful. She didn’t necessarily offer any solutions, she just helped me unpack and notice the connections.
(Over and over again, I have learnt that I don’t often know what I think until I have said it ‘out loud’. The act of putting something into words, whether written or spoken is hugely clarifying).
My second conversation was with a different friend. The good thing about this conversation was that one by one she took the all items off the line, folded them and confidently expressed a sense of hope and expectation that ‘all was well’. I was blessed that these conversations had come in this order. The first conversation had made me ready to hear her expressed confidence.
There is a time and place for both types of conversation. The bonus of the second conversation for me was that it was with a friend who not only knows me really well, but who shares huge chunks of life experience with me. Why does this matter? It means we can talk in short-hand. She only has to raise an eyebrow and we can agree on the same point without saying any words. I only have to say ‘yes but’ and she already knows what I’m about to say.
What a huge blessing these conversations were to me. Thank you, you know who you are. Never underestimate the power of listening: the gift of ‘listening ears’ is precious. As Jesus often said, ‘ Those who have ears to hear, let them listen’.
*in the interests of balance, let it be known that I have also recently had two equally helpful (albeit briefer) conversations with persons of the male gender!