Through a series of seemingly unfortunate events, I met my friend Connor my junior year of high school in an AP Psychology class. Our friendship has taught me how to listen—how to really listen to someone and feel what they are feeling.
The first day of class, I walked into the room and see a couple friends at the front of the class, but there were no seats near them. I reluctantly sat in the back next to a guy I had never seen before in my life and an empty chair. The teacher announced that was to be our permanent seating chart and tutorial, a twenty minute free time open for studying or talking, would be spent in those seats as well. I thought, “Great, I have some shy guy and an empty chair to talk to all year.” During first semester, we had a couple awkward conversations to avoid the awkward silence.
That year, I was on the leadership council for Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), which met every Wednesday night at 8:30. We would pray, worship and listen to a guest speaker. I found throughout high school, FCA was my retreat from stress and worries.
Second semester came and the awkwardness continued. We spoke more often, but still weren’t to the point of calling each other friends. February came and Connor was abruptly absent for about a month. Our teacher told us that Connor’s mom had died back in the beginning of February. That night I messaged him on Facebook telling him I was sorry for his loss and if he needed anything to let me know and I would do everything in my power to be there for him. When he returned to class, I assisted him with his makeup assignments, but he had grown quieter than he already was. We talked even less. It was a Wednesday and with nothing to lose, I decided to fill the silence with an invitation to FCA that night. Connor came and went and I thought nothing of it.
It was more than that to him. It was life changing. He came to every FCA after that and began coming to church with me. We would talk about how he was doing and how his father was doing. We decided it was best for him to seek counseling with his dad and join a Lifegroup at church. That was two years ago. Connor and I still go to church and talk on a regular basis.
Everyone has that person they go to when they have a story, or need advice. You can never be too good of a listener. I never knew how important listening was until I met Connor. Today people say, “hey guess what I did!” and ask how someone is just so they can say how they are and what’s going on in their own life. I have learned to ask, “how are you” and mean it—how to actually listen to someone and be totally with them. Being engaged with people when talking about personal aspects has been something I have tried to become better at with each passing year. What I hate most is talking to someone and you can tell they’re not really listening, not really engaged. My goal is to know something about each person I encounter. To never let a chance to listen to somebody pass me by. Everyone has a story, all you have to do is listen.