Today I went to see my new primary care physician as a follow up to an ER visit three days prior where I was diagnosed with pneumonia. While we talked about my pneumonia he also listened to me talk about my peripheral neuropathy, a disease that has changed my life and those that I live with.
On the way home I was telling my wife how magnificent it felt to be listened to. When I told my doctor that it changed our lives he understood, no additional comments. When I told him it messes with everything else in my body, he agreed. When I told him that we still don't know what it is from, he told me that the Pacific Northwest is the mecca for strange neurological diseases.
As I laid down for my late evening rest I reflected on how rare listening is. People are heard yet rarely listened to. The tendency is to want to fix, solve or give advice, it seems as though it is never okay simply to hurt or suffer. The other tendency is to avoid the pain, that is, not enter into the suffering of another. Granted we can never truly enter into another's pain but the word "compassion" means literally "to suffer with".
Compassionate listening is to allow the other person simply to be themselves and to have the courage to love them as they are. It is to see Christ in the one who is suffering and to minister to Christ in, as Mother Theresa says, "his most distressing disguise". To be a compassionate listener is to be Christ to another and to be compassionate. Christ is compassionate; for selfless love is compassionate. Does it have a cost on the listener? Yes, but our lives have been bought with a price, ransomed by the blood of Christ and it is our privilege to pay the cost. We have all been called as Jesus says "to take up your cross and follow me".
Is their someone in your life who is suffering and simply needs be listened to? Are you at a place where you can be a compassionate listener? If so take a risk, trust the Holy Spirit and listen with a loving heart, remembering it is Christ you are ministering to and Christ ministering through you.
For those of you looking at the time stamp I took one of my meds a little late and so I am up later than I want to be. Don't worry I can sleep all day if I need to.
BTW: I love you all...