The Power of a Listening Ear
Recently, four nurses from the Tennessee Professionals Assistance Program (TnPAP) participated with the Brentwood Baptist Medical/Dental Mobile unit to provide health assessment to the men who live in the sober living houses sponsored by Welcome Home Ministries. Afterwards, as the nurses processed their experience, one said, “I know that the men could have gotten the same blood pressure reading at the grocery store, but I enjoyed listening to their stories.” It is true that the blood pressure reading would probably have not changed if the reading was done by a machine at the grocery store, but I know that it would not have had the same emotional and spiritual impact on the men as a listening, caring human being. The nurses did not give a lot of medical help. They did not do wound care or physical exams, but what they did do can’t be overestimated.
We are living in a world in which there are fewer and fewer human interactions. For example, I now refill my prescriptions using an app. I used to call and talk to my pharmacist. I even knew my pharmacist’s name. Machines, apps, the internet are all making it more and more difficult to have meaningful human interactions. Many people, especially those who struggle with addiction or homelessness, have very few people who listen to their stories. An empathic, listening ear is something that a blood pressure machine in a grocery store will never be able to provide.
I can’t speak for what the event meant to the men at Welcome Home Ministries, but the nurses from TnPAP who participated all agreed: it was worth their time and they would like to do it again.