It wasn’t much to look at.
It was a chunky, hardcover children’s book, its pages faded and well-worn. It had been gradually gathering dust and fingerprint smudges for nearly 75 years. Yet I was brimming with eagerness, as I delicately wrapped my friend Trisha’s present in pale aqua tissue paper.
Why be so thrilled to give a used book to a friend? This gift was the response to a heart-drop.
Let me explain.
Trisha and I were born the same year, so we had many common memories of being kids in the 1980s. Roller-skating. Tab soda. “Who shot J.R.?” Bonne Bell Lip Smackers. You get the picture.
One day when discussing our school days, Trisha mentioned in passing how she’d seriously struggled with reading. “I was placed in the slow reading group, unlike all my friends. I didn’t even like going to the library, because I couldn’t find any books that I could read the whole way through.”
I empathized, knowing all too well the battles of people with reading disabilities — having a husband and one child with dyslexia.
Trisha’s face brightened as she recalled a small victory: “There was one book I actually could read cover to cover. It was a book my grandmother had. It was square and was called Mary Lee and the Mystery of the Indian Beads. I’d curl up on the sofa and read the whole thing. Oh, how I loved the feeling I got from reading that book!”
That story was more than just a window into Tricia’s past. It was a “heart-drop.” A heart-drop is when a person, either directly or in a cryptic way, gives you a peek into their heart. It may be through actual words, or you might pick up on a feeling, perhaps sadness or loneliness.
My friend’s heart surfaced as she talked about a time in her life when she felt significant, safe and no longer inferior to the rest of the kids. At that moment, her heart expressed through her words a tender and raw emotion. A longing for someone to understand, for someone to say: “I’m listening. I hear you.”
I left our conversation that day determined to find a copy of that book. Thanks to an online site, I victoriously scored a retro copy of it.
When Trisha opened her gift that night in her living room, she could scarcely believe her eyes. She looked up at me with such excitement. “Wait! But how did you know?” she exclaimed.
I reminded her of our conversation months earlier, which she had forgotten. And she couldn’t believe I had remembered — and then acted upon it.
Lamentations 2:18 was written during the time the ancient Israelites were held in captivity. The first part of the verse announces God hears our heart-cries: “The hearts of the people cry out to the Lord.”
God knows what pains us and what brings us pleasure. He has access to our deepest longings for significance. He observes our desire to be noticed, accepted, validated and loved.
But often God uses people to hear the cries of other people and respond with sincere love and care, to reach out and hearten another soul. If we will only learn to pay attention, to live alert. We can purpose to listen between the spoken words to understand what others are really feeling — and what they are trying to say. We reflect the love of Jesus as we seek to hear the heart-cries of another.
May we become skilled at tuning our ears to the heart-drops of those around us and then responding with a thoughtful gesture. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate gift. It can be a kindly spoken word. A handwritten note. A loving text or encouraging comment left on social media. A shared heart over a cup of coffee. A brief moment where we put ourselves to the side for a moment to pause. To notice. To respond. To echo God’s heart toward them.
Hearing a heart-drop is an art we must lovingly cultivate. It can lead to the most wonderful times of encouragement as we make it our habit to listen and to love.
Dear Father, may I learn to lean in and listen, hearing the heart-cries of others and then reaching out in Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV)
author Karen Ehman