Aren’t friends great? They spend good times with us, they pick us up when we’re down, they help us out in times of need and they’re always ready to share a good laugh! But I think the one quality that is so crucial in a friend is having a ‘good ear’ to listen.
Life is so overwhelming and more often than not we need to unburden ourselves. We want to ‘come clean’ and find relief by sharing our real feelings. It’s not about what our friends answer back or the advice they offer. The primary comfort comes from the opportunity to express ourselves openly and not feel judged. We naturally know how and what we need to be successful, but we have an urge to express the matter with words. Sometimes our parents, siblings or spouses may be the person we confide in. It doesn’t matter who it is because the satisfaction is mostly from being candid and articulating our feelings.
Hashem is the ideal friend. He listens to everything we tell Him and although He answers in a big way, He never answers back. In ספר השתפכות הנפש Rebbe Nachman writes that when we talk to Hashem in our own words, in some unfathomable way He puts down everything that He’s busy with at the time and turns His attention to only us.
Before I started consistently practicing these meditations I was a big cynic! Whenever I heard about setting aside time to talk to God in our own words I brushed it off. I tried it in the past and found it to be cumbersome. Besides being an awkward practice to start, I reasoned that it must be sufficient that we go to synagogue three times a day and pray. Why spend more time talking to God? What’s the difference?
The difference is that in synagogue God is our Lord and in our private sessions He is our friend. When we discuss our lives with Him, He get’s it! Nobody knows us better! He understands and perfectly remembers every minute detail of our life, all of our achievements and potentials. He wants to help us succeed so badly! He just listens and listens and listens! And when we let Him in and talk openly with Him, like a friend, there is no more comforting feeling in the world. We don’t have to finish our sentences with Him. There are no miscommunications. We can just cry or rant, sing or chat. Sometimes we can say one sentence and then be quiet for awhile. Sometimes we need to talk a lot. There are no rules. There is something so unique about this relationship that can’t be compared to any others. Like we said earlier, the relief that we get from sharing with a friend comes mostly from the alleviation of having been ‘bottled up’ and not from the friend himself. So imagine how good it feels to share with a friend who listens so well that He makes you feel totally understood and appreciated. Wouldn’t you want to come back and share again?