Holy in the Daily

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When You Don't Know What to Say

When You Don’t Know What to Say

Recently, I found myself sitting across the table from an old friend at a wedding. We hadn’t seen each other in years.

June (not her real name) is in her early 60s and looks like she’s 50 years old.

She has a good job. Great kids. Several grandchildren. Lovely home. And a husband who seems to be a really nice guy.

To me, June looks like she has the perfect life. I’m sure everyone around me thought so too.

But as the evening wore on and the table became empty, she scooted over and poured out the rest of her story.

It wasn’t pretty

Retirement isn’t an option any time soon as June and her husband made some costly financial mistakes over the years.

Her kids all have busy lives, and she often doesn’t see or hear from them for weeks.

One son is an addict, and she’s been bailing him out of trouble for years.

Her husband battles depression and doesn’t like to socialize, so she’s left to attend social events without him … or sit at home with someone who doesn’t want to do anything but watch TV.

She confesses that she feels like half a person most of the time.

Somewhere in the raising of her family and in the working to help provide a nice lifestyle, June’s lost her identity.

She misses her old self. The one that knew how to laugh, go on adventures, and how to be nurtured by her husband and girlfriends.

In fact, she wonders where all of her girlfriends have gone. There are so few of them in her life now.

And her relationship with the Lord is stale. Dry. Like she’s been wandering in the desert for many seasons.

I didn’t know what to say

So I just sat there.

I know. Shock. Susan not knowing what to say? It happens.

You’ve been there. You don’t have a clue what to say sometimes either.

I wasn’t sure if I should burst into tears, give her a warm embrace, or pray with her.

So I didn’t do anything. I just sat and listened.

I listened a lot. Sometimes I’d grunt, or say something like, “You’ve got to be kidding! Really? Then what happened?”

Two hours later, she gave me a big hug as she stood to leave.

“Thanks so much for spending your evening with me and listening. You don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve had someone just listen. I feel so much better.”

And with that, she was gone

Now, don’t get me wrong. As she’d been talking I did think of a few “wise bits of counsel” I could give her, but to be honest, I was tired. It had been a long week. So I took the easy route and just listened. For. Two. Hours!

And surprise, surprise … that was all the Holy Spirit wanted me to do. Be a listener.

June’s problems weren’t solved. I guess they weren’t supposed to be solved that night. But she left feeling encouraged and hopeful.

And all I did was listen and grunt out a few words here and there.

My simple thought for you this week is to find someone who needs you to listen to them pour out their woes.

This doesn’t take much skill or thought. You don’t have to know exactly what to say.

Just sit there. Listen. Grunt now and then, and respond with, “You’ve got to be kidding! Really? Then what happened?”

Then listen some more.

Easy peasy, right? Anyone can do that!

And, believe it or not, you’ll be making Jesus bigger inside someone just by listening to them share their troubles.

And in the process you’ll be building your own legacy of faith.

Now, go find someone to listen to. It’s important.

Catch you next week,

Susan

Oh, you’d like to hear more? Check out:

How Active Listening’ Makes Both Participants In a Conversation Feel Better from The Wall Street Journal

How to Respond When You Don’t Want to Listen

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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Kristina

    That is a very nice article! It’s a great reminder that sometimes listening is actually way better than trying to solve the problem. Because most of the time we cannot solve the problem. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Susan Gaddis

      Thanks for stopping by Kristina and dropping off your gift of encouragement. 🙂

  2. Janet Reeves

    I think listening must be one of the hardest skills for people to master. We all want to be heard. You may have just been tired, but you gave this friend a priceless gift. Thanks for the reminder that we can do the same.

  3. Gwen

    Thank you Susan for this article,
    It was an encouragement to me.
    I formerly worked (and lived for a few months)in a Christan homeless shelter, where I was able to use this “gift” of the Holy Spirit for a few years with the women there. I am now a listener to my oldest divorced son ( not Easy, 🙂 unless O remember Not to respond more than I Listen 🙂
    Then I commit it All to prayer before the LORD, or I would find myself carrying it as my “problem” which its not. I also listen to several friends on Facebook as they have sought me out many times for prayer glory to God, simply based on my posts, how I have Met some 800 friends on Facebook 🙂 anyway thanks again! Abundant Blessings to you!!

    1. Susan Gaddis

      You’ve provided some great real life examples, Gwen. I especially like how you are able to give your son’s problems to the Lord rather than make his problems your problems. Doesn’t it make listening so much easier when we know we don’t have to own the listener’s problems ourselves? 🙂

      It also sounds like you’ve really fine-tuned the skill of listening off line and on! Facebook needs more compassionate listeners and you’re leading the pack.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Heather

    I love this. Great advice. We all need a compassionate listening ear on our darkest days.

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