Lent Series

Listening to Others When They Are Dealing With Change


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Listening to Others When They Are Dealing With Change

by Scott Stoner

If one gives answer before hearing, it is folly and shame. —Proverbs 18:13

There is a connection between our capacity to listen to others’ emo-tions and the capacity to listen to our own. Referring to the scale of emotions in yesterday’s reflection, we will find that our capacity to listen to the “unpleasant” 0-5 emotions of others will be directly related to the ability to do the same with ourselves.

All of us know people who have suffered more than others this past year. The pandemic has hit some individuals and groups of people harder than others. We focused earlier in this devotional on the importance of listening to our neighbors. Being a faithful listener to our neighbors, those who have dealt with more than their share of change this year, is perhaps one of the greatest gifts we can offer them.

As the verse from Proverbs states, people who are grieving don’t need us to give them answers. They probably don’t need advice either. What they need is our loving and caring presence. What they need is for us to be comfortable listening to their grief, pain, and uncertainty. What they need is for us to be truly interested in hearing their real response when we ask, “So how are you doing right now?”

There is a beautiful quote from Henri Nouwen that describes the kind of listening and care people need from us when they are grieving.

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing … that is a friend who cares.

Making It Personal: How comfortable are you in simply listening to another’s grief or sadness? Have you been a friend to someone who has faced a great deal of change during this past year? Is there someone right now to whom you feel called to reach out and listen? 

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