just you wait

“Oh, just you wait. Just you wait until you have two kids.”

You’ve been there, right? You share a current struggle or circumstance and someone invalidates it with a statement that shuts down the conversation?

It’s not fun.

But you’ve also done this, right? You sat across the table from someone a few years younger than you, watching them walk right into a season you just left, and your mouth can’t help itself but to throw advice into unwanted ears. Suddenly you hear yourself spitting out, “Just wait until you. . .

go to college.

move out on your own.

get a job.

live in another country.

get married.

stay single.

have a kid.

have two kids.

have three kids.

are pregnant with three kids.

have kids that are teenagers.”

And on, and on, and on.

And what you and I may not realize is that while our heart is pure, and our intentions are good, what we think we’re doing isn’t really what we’re doing at all. Because when we talk at people instead of listen to them we quickly invalidate what they say and trump their pain with “my life is harder than yours, so shut it.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like having clarity about this when the damage is done. I don’t like the moment I’m driving home from Starbucks and realize I monopolized a conversation, or spoke out of turn because my pride needed to come first. I wonder if today, we could listen. If we could place a metaphorical (or physical) hand over our mouth when we’re tempted to trump someone else’s struggle, and instead allow them to feel safe and heard. What we may surprisingly find on the opposite end is someone who wants to listen to the person that listened to him, first.

I wonder how different our families, relationships, churches, and businesses would be if we chose to listen a little more, and speak a lot less. Let’s listen today. And let’s put away the “just you wait . . .” monologue, and replace it with life-giving dialogues instead.

“Just you wait. . .” No. Just you listen.