Understanding & The Help

I’ve seen The Help – Twice. If you haven’t seen it stop reading this and go. If you have, go again! Last night, my second time seeing the movie, I found that I laughed even longer and cried even harder because of the added anticipation. I also felt the weight of the words spoken by the different characters in a heavier way.

Early in the movie Aibileen, an African American maid is talking to Skeeter, a young white woman who wants to write a book from the perspective of The Help. Aibileen says, “Miss Skeeter, what if you don’t like what I got to say?” And Skeeter’s reply was simple and profound, “It’s not about me.”

Wow. How often do you engage in a conversation with someone who has this perspective? I am here to listen, I will not judge you and I am not thinking about my own perspective. In the book, Can you Hear me Now?, the author states that “Our need for understanding is our second greatest need and only food and shelter is higher.”

He encourages us to give the gift of Discovery Listening to engage those we love to talk and come to their own revelations about their life, relationships and decisions. We so often jump in to solve the problem or give our perspective, instead of letting them talk and use their own wisdom to make discoveries about themselves.

Discovery Listening involves 5 things.
1. Anchor in Christ.
2. Focus completely.
3. Summarize what was said back.
4. Invite them to say more.
5. Ask additional open ended questions.

It made me think of my own gifted counselor who has spent over a year listening and understanding me. It struck me last night when at the end of the movie Aibileen says, “No one ever asked what it felt like to be me. “ She then states, “Now I know what it feels like to be free.” I hadn’t used the word freedom to describe what I gained from having someone understand me.

Race doesn’t change our need for understanding. Find someone in your life who can listen to you in a way that leads you to discover your own truths. Find someone who is willing to understand what it feels like to be you. Use that person to help you feel free. Offer that same gift to them.

And last, go see The Help again! It’s rare when you sit in a movie theater laughing and crying out loud with people you don’t know. Look around the room and see the diversity. Then take note of how this movie was able to touch each of us individually, and demonstrate that one need we all have…Understanding!

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