Whether you turn to the right or to the left,

your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,

“This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

People in pain ...

Adam McHugh's book "The Listening Life" is an incredible read; life-changing to tell the truth.

His chapter on listening to people in pain is worth the price of the entire book.

A few excerpts for you to ponder today:

"Few things shut down a person in pain faster than quoting the Bible at them ... sometimes people use the Bible in a way that makes hurting people feel like God is telling them to shut up.

... it has been my experience that Christians are often worse at dealing with people in pain than others with different beliefs. Truth be told, I have chosen on many occasions to share my painful moments and emotions with non-Christians rather than Christians because I knew I would be better heard ...

A hurting person is in a storm. They are cold, wet, shivering and scared.

Preaching, platitudes and advice will not get them out of the storm.

Don't tell someone in a storm that it is a sunny day.

There will likely come a day when the clouds part, but it is not today.

It's not your job to pull them out of the storm.

It's your job to get soaked with them."

As you come across people in pain, notice what their grief or sadness stirs up within you.

Most often, it is our own discomfort with other people's sadness that causes us to blurt out Scripture,

propose pompous platitudes,

or subtly blame them for their tears.

This is 100% unhelpful.

But very often we are not primarily seeking to be helpful to people in pain.

Most often we are simply trying to get them to stop being sad,

so that we don't have to face the truth that life is hard,

that into every life some rain will fall,

and that on this side of eternity grief is a road we must all eventually walk down.

 

Christians are talking ...

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said this:

"Many people are looking for an ear that will listen.

They do not find it among Christians,

because these Christians are talking

when they should be listening."

 

These walls of separation ...

The years of all of us are short, our lives precarious.

Our days and nights go hurrying on, and there is scarcely time to do the little we might.

Yet we find time for bitterness, for petty treason and evasion.

What can we do to stretch our hearts enough to lose their littleness?

Here we are – all of us – all upon this planet, bound together in a common destiny, living our lives between the briefness of the daylight and the dark, kindred in this: each lighted by the same precarious, flickering flame of life, how does it happen that we are not kindred in all things else?

How strange and foolish are these walls of separation that divide us!

(A. Powell Davies, 1902 - 1957)



Passive conversational narcissism ...

What, there's more?

More than one way to be narcissistic in our listening?

Yup.

We can actively try to turn conversations to ourselves - this is active conversational narcissism.

But we can also passively refuse to really listen to another human being.

This is how Charles Derber describes it:

"Passive conversational narcissism entails neglect of supportive questions at all discretionary points and extremely sparse use of them throughout conversation.

Listening behavior takes place but it is passive.

There is little attempt to draw others out or assume other forms of active listening.

This creates doubt in the other regarding the interest of their topics or their right to attention.

A second very common minimal use practice involves the … delay of background acknowledgements.

Although weaker than supportive questions, background acknowledgements such as ‘yeah’ or ‘uh huh’ are nonetheless critical cues by which speakers gauge the degree of interest in their topics."

How often does this happen in your life?

A person starts to speak to you, you gauge their importance to you, your level of interest in what they are saying ...

and then you ACT like you are listening,

but you refuse to ask them a follow-up question,

you barely look them in the eye,

you don't even nod your head or say 'uh-huh' as a cue to them to keep going.

You THINK you are listening,

you may even congratulate yourself on not shifting the conversation toward yourself,

but in no way do you make the person feel listened to.

In fact, just the opposite happens.

Your lack of interest, response, question-asking or non-verbal approval

causes the person talking with you to conclude you are uninterested,

maybe even that they are uninteresting,

and they move on.

Conversation over!

Now you can check Facebook or Instagram to see what your "real" friends are saying ...

Ouch.