Stop to Listen & GraceFull Tuesday Link-Up

Stop to Listen

A while ago, I sat on a blue couch at church and shared space with a girl I had met two minutes before. We met, really, because she was crying. Not exactly knowing what to do, I did what I thought I was supposed to do. So I went and I asked her if she was okay. I also asked if she would want to talk.

Here in Finland, we aren’t the talkative type of people. Which sometimes makes connecting with others rather troublesome. We don’t even have a word for “small talk” because in our culture, we don’t really talk to strangers. It’s nothing personal, honestly. We are just private people, warming up over time and inside the four walls that we call home. So if we are out and about? We don’t really chat with others.

So when I asked those questions? I expected the answer to be no, to both. Except that this woman I just met? She said yes. She opened up and she said, yes, please, let’s talk.I didn’t know just how unprepared I would be for that.

Except that it was then that I noticed God had prepared me for this moment.

Because here’s the thing: I know a broken heart. I have walked through trials and hardships. I have battled with sin and spiritual warfare, and I have struggled through seasons and shame and sorrow. Not that these make me capable, no. But over time, they have given me something very important: a heart that knows to stop to listen. And I think it you can do the same.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
But here’s the thing. To be able to stop and listen? We need to pay attention. We need to pay attention to the people around us, but also the hearts of those who walk beside us. And it’s true, we might not always have something to say. Because sometimes quoting Scriptures feels like speaking platitudes. Sometimes we run out of words, out of ideas. But our presence can be a comfort and a safe refuge for those in hard seasons.

GraceFull Tuesday Link-Up


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20 Comments

  1. Amen! The gift of just being there. I’m not sure how easy it is to come by these days. God help us! Thanks for sharing, Ronja. Blessings to you.

  2. This was very convicting for me. So many times I hesitate to reach out because I’m not willing to take the time to pay attention. I appreciated this so much!

    1. I’m right there with you, Emily! Usually these things come at such inconvenient times. Still, there is so much blessing in paying attention and reaching out to others.

  3. How did I miss that you are in Finland?
    Fascinating, because here in New England, U.S.A., we are also a reticent bunch, and not given to much in the way of small talk–or sharing of emotions. I am just amazed at your holy boldness that led to your availability to that dear woman whom you have now blessed.
    I’m taking a lesson from you.

    1. Michele, I used to live in Boston for a year and New England in general did feel like home in many ways. 🙂 I’m just amazed at how graciously God keeps giving us these opportunities to learn and to grow. I can be so stuck to my own ways sometimes. Thank you for your kindness here today, Michele. God bless you!

  4. I love this message. I think too often we are so busy we don’t leave ourselves enough margin to pay attention and listen to anyone but ourselves. Thanks for drawing attention to a dying art. laurensparks.net

    1. Thank you, Lauren! It really is just so easy to be so busy and caught up in our own things that we forget to be open to God in all situations. Yet there is always such blessings in those spaces. Thanks for visiting here today, Lauren!

  5. That is one of my favorite verses and I’m so glad God gave you holy boldness. I didn’t realize you were in Finland. The internet makes our world so small. Glad I found you!

    1. Internet really does make the world so small, Nylse! I just love that I get to form friendships with people from all around the world through this. 🙂 Thanks for visiting here today. God bless you!

  6. I don’t think I realized that you are from Finland! I am sure you showed the girl from church compassion and empathy. She picked a good person to listen to her.

    1. Laurie, I guess I don’t mention it too often that I’m from Finland! Which is funny in many ways. 🙂 Thank you for your kindness here. God bless you!

  7. Hi Ronja, I’m from Atlanta, Ga. And people in the south are for the most part talkers and engaging, Southern hospitality. But you know, they can talk and not be listening to others or to God. There can also be the hustle and bustle of the city that keeps people oblivious to others. I moved farther south to a suburb, while I like the peace and quiet of the neighborhood, here I am talking to people all over the world. People really do need people, and people need Jesus. He leads you to just the right people at the right time, God bless. I’m sure Finland is wonderful. And you there to be a blessing.

    1. Thank you for this wisdom, Rebecca! Because you are so right, just because people talk doesn’t mean they are listening to others or to God. Thank you for sharing this point of view. God bless you!

  8. Listening is becoming a lost art, but we need to listen…
    Here in Australia we will smile & say hi to strangers as we go for a walk, especially in seaside & country towns/villages.
    But in the cities it is completely different. People are in their own closed worlds…sad…
    Glad you listened to God Ronja 😀
    Blessings,
    Jennifer

    1. Jennifer, I know that even here in Finland in the countryside people tend to be more open and talkative. I kind of love that. But in the cities it really is so different and it’s hard to talk to people (or to even want to talk, haha!). I think it requires quite a lot these days for us to actually stop, put our own busyness aside and listen to someone else. But I know I’m so glad when someone does it for me. Thanks for stopping here! God bless you

  9. Such a great reminder, Ronja. We can all listen. And our past can help us empathize and encourage. Perfect topic. I have been thinking of how I can better comfort the brokenhearted. Listening is one way.

  10. Hi Ronja, I thought I responded to this post before but I wanted to tell you that I love how God connects us to others in ways we don’t expect. Being available and willing to be used — those are usually the first steps to some deep connections where God can use us.
    Blessings to you,
    Marva | SunSparkleShine