After my mother’s massive stroke, nearly two years ago, I had to listen carefully “between the lines” if I ever wanted to relate significantly to her again.   For, you see, she was left severely handicapped.  Not only was she unable to walk or to use her hands due to apraxia but additionally, and even more devastatingly, she was left speechless due to aphasia.  She knew exactly what she wanted to say but only occasionally could she put the correct word in the right place.  So when she said to me, “Her hair looks giver,” I knew she meant to say something more like, “her hair looks good.”  And when she said pick a waffle off the tree,” what she meant to say was “would you please hand me a tissue.”Listening  to understand Mom after her stroke was a very involved activity.  It took much concentration and study of her as her words were insufficient.  To understand what she was trying to communicate I learned to, not only watch her expressions and body language, but to additionally reflect on her previous comments, attitudes, and decisions which she made over the years.  In this manner it was at times possible to engage with her in a meaningful two-way communication.  As you could imagine, this listening required full engagement, focus, and energy.   Though this was challenging and difficult, for many reasons, I was motivated to have a listening spirit towards her because of my deep love for her.  I wanted to “restore” my relationship with her as much as possible.   In fact my whole family, including my father, sister, and brother wanted to “restore” our relationship with her as much as possible.   This desire wasn’t born of guilt.  Rather,this desire was born of a deep love and respect for her.  Our invisible (yet costly)  gifts of listening to her enabled us to strengthen, bless, and encourage her.I came to realize this is exactly what God does for us.  He intently listens to you and me.  His powerful listening is born from a deep love for each one of us.   And His desire is for us to reflect this listening spirit, powered by His love, to our family.    Even if their words are tangled, unclear, or get in the way.I would love to hear from you. How have you listened intently to someone and then noticed a change for the better?