What Your Tell Says About You (and Me)
A dear one in my life stutters when she’s nervous and I get it. I look her deep in the eyes, still all my outward movement, and patiently wait. I want my steady focus to assure her I’m listening, because I completely understand.
|Photo: LeBrvn, Creative Commons, cc license|
When I was younger, my words poured out stumbling and halting in other ways. Spilling sentences in breathless, breakneck speeds, I raced through my thoughts, gasping air in gulps. Slamming words and phrases into each other, I peered anxiously at my listeners, dumping my words and watching their nonverbal signs.
“Jeni, slow down. Take a breath,” my parents would say. “Enunciate.”
And I didn’t figure it out until decades later, learning to speak in measured rates and digging underneath the surface for the why. In middle school insecurity, I was afraid my listener would leave. Rushing my impressions and opinions, I tumbled words in junior high hallways, in church youth group rooms, and on yellow school buses.
Talking fast was my give-away tell, but you probably have one too. I see teens who stand with hunched shoulders beside shorter friends, worried they’ll stand out or look different; and I see how others preface their thoughts with humor — only their eyes giving them away.
Coming off two weeks of speaking engagements, truths from Bible lessons and marriage sessions ring loudest in my own ears, and they make me smile. From the God who leans into biblical King Solomon’s dark bedroom on a quiet night two weeks after a public prayer, I read his intimate words: “I heard your prayer, Solomon…”
Whether Valentine’s day falls for you in an aftermath of red-hearts and chocolates, or with heart-aches and hungers, I read God’s words engraved immortal. I hear you. I see you. When your voice is turned towards me, when you cry out for me, I will hear you and turn to you. Your words do not fall to the ground unheeded. They do not clatter and crash.
Take a breath, dear one. Stand tall, dear friend. Say what’s on your heart, my friend, and let it match your eyes. He’s listening.
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