What do you want me to do with that????

Well…we are beginning the third month of my year-long commitment to writing a blog…hard to believe…I don’t know if the articles are prompting others (that would be you) to do random acts of kindness each week or not. However, I can say that writing them has helped me cope a little better with the losses and changes occurring in my life. It has helped to learn of your interest and support, and to hear your own, personal stories and comments. I need your assistance though. I want to increase the number of people who read the blog. If you like the stories, and the weekly “challenges,” why not forward the link or site to other members of your family and friends? If you get a “chuckle” or a positive “lift” from the articles, maybe others would also…”Hearing from people” leads me to our article and challenge for this coming week…

For years I have tried to figure out why people, even perfect strangers, will come up to me and start very personal conversations. At times I feel like I have an invisible sign on my forehead that reads, “Talk to me. I will listen to ANYTHING!!” I can get on an elevator with an individual on the sixth floor of a hotel, and by the time we have reached the first floor, I know their name…how long their stay will be…their marital status (and if they are happily/unhappily married)…number of children they have…what they do for a living…what they do for “fun”….and I don’t ask any questions!! They just open up and begin talking to me. It seems that people are so desperate to have someone listen to whatever is going on in their lives, that they will tell you almost anything. I have actually had, on two separate occasions, at two separate conferences, an individual to come up after my presentation, introduce themselves, and then say, “I’m having sexual difficulties with my husband.” I smiled, tried NOT to look shocked, but my brain was screaming, “Just WHAT do you want me to do with that??” People are so desperate to talk that they will get on public TV and divulge the most intimate details of their lives. I heard one lady on a program state, “I slept with my brother.” And of course, I was thinking, well even if that were true, why, for goodness sakes, would you get on TV and tell everyone about it???

Just recently I flew back into Knoxville, TN from a road trip. It was very late at night, almost midnight, and there were about 100 of us waiting at the baggage carousel for our luggage. I admit, I was tired, and all I wanted to do was get my suitcase and get home as quickly as possible…to my bed. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman begin moving from the total opposite side of the carousel. I was careful not to make eye contact, or show interest of any type. I thought, surely, she is just coming over this way to get a better location to wait for her luggage. As she began to get closer, I could “feel” purpose in her movement…her focus was directed…She ended up standing about one foot from me. As she assumed her position, she began talking…she had just returned from a visit with her daughter…she had a new grandchild…would I like to see pictures…she began showing me the pictures…telling me names…reliving the weekend…Inside my head, I was thinking, “out of ALL of these people waiting for their luggage, how on earth did you pick me to talk to?” I was just standing there, minding my on business, and she walked all the way from the other side of the room to get to me! I wanted to just say, “lady, I have been with people ALL week…I’m tired…I don’t won’t to talk to anybody!” But, you already know what I did; don’t you? I smiled really big, bragged on how beautiful the new grand baby was, and asked questions and made the appropriate comments. Did I have to “fake it?” No, even though I was bone-tired, I was genuinely interested in her as a person. 

So, this week, I am going to try extra hard to give people my full attention and focus in conversation. I am going to understand that people do need to know that what they are saying, or what is happening in their lives, is important to someone else…that they, themselves are important, and should be given attention. I will let them know that they “matter.” Won’t you join me? Just for this week…

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11 thoughts on “What do you want me to do with that????

  1. Jo Beth Crout says:

    Cat,

    I enjoyed your story this week. I have read all of your stories from the beginning. It is a pleasure to have you as my sister. I had an interesting week. My husband, Louis and I went on a train ride in spite of the cold weather. It is a small train in Columbia, Mississippi. A person can ride the train the first Saturday of each month at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. The ride last 45 minutes. You can even book birthday parties during the month. To schedule a party, you have to get in touch with the Marion County Partnership office. Then I went to a birthday party for a little girl in our church. There were having a tea party for her and her friends. They were all dressed up in their fancy dresses. This Sunday, I participated in a food pounding for a lady that is in need. She last her daughter-in-law and 2 grandchildren in a terrible wreck. It has been a great pleasure helping others. This next week, I will be taking two people to their doctor appointments. There is a mission field beyond the four walls and we have to think out of the box. Yes, I will take time to listen to people.

  2. Becky Selman says:

    Yes! How many times has this happened to me, might be the better question. Sometimes I feel like there is a sign on my face that says, “nuts welcome”. Just smile.

  3. Mary Edwards says:

    Cat, I so enjoy and look forward to your weekly writings. I especially liked this week’s message. I will try to be more responsive to those needing someone, even if it is just to ramble. Thank you for reminding me of this. xoxo, Love you, Mar

  4. Carla Gamm says:

    Cat,
    This reminds me of a time I was at the Louisville airport waiting for a co-worker to join me to attend a conference. I had been up since about 4:30 that morning and thinking about all the work ahead before I could relax. I was alone at that gate when woman chose to sit down next to me, and I found myself thinking, “Every other chair is empty, why are you so close to me?” After a bit, she leaned toward me to ask who I was waiting for. I told her, and of course, I had to ask who she was waiting for, and she said her sister who was flying in because their nephew was in a coma at a nearby hospital not expected to make it through the night. I was so humbled and ashamed of my initial reaction when this woman just needed some human contact at this tragic time. I continued to visit her until the flight came in and hugged her goodbye. After that, I vowed to always be open to offering another human a bit of comfort because I don’t know what they’re going through.
    You do that all the time!
    Carla

    • Cat Selman says:

      Good for you for being there for this lady, who most certainly needed a little comfort. Experience tells me that there are so many out there who just need someone to REALLY listen to them, for just a moment…Keep being open and willing…

  5. This post fits me so perfectly! I must admit that sometimes I can hardly wait for the person I’m talking to (many times it’s my dear husband Dave who Cat knows) to finish what they’re saying so I can get my 2 cents in. I’m going to work very hard at changing this in myself! Thank you Cat. I’ve always said those ‘Southern Belles’ are the most polite and well-mannered people. Take it from someone who loves you Cat, you do have that special quality that people just know you care!

  6. Aaran says:

    I have the same “gift.” I see it as one of the ways God uses my life. We all need to be truly heard with no judgment and no advice given, just an ear, so sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone we’ll never see again. I sometimes offer to pray with whomever has sought me out. They’ve always accepted. Thanks for posting-it’s nice to know it happens to others too. 🙂

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