A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, February 16, 2014
Showing Love? Listen! Encourage!
I met someone new today. Nothing out of the ordinary. What I did and how I acted after I met her was.
Today was the typical weekend day, not terribly busy, but with enough to do to keep me occupied. Church, errands, going with my daughter to a store. I happened to meet two other women (one I knew), and a third came up to us a minute or two later. So there we were. The woman I hadn’t met before had just begun a detailed explanation of a difficulty she had. It was an intricate problem, and the three of us stood there, listening. Fascinated.
I could see how my new friend got animated, just by sharing her difficulty. Puzzling, and problematic, too. The other three women (me and my two friends) encouraged her. We were a receptive audience, nodding and letting her know we followed the many-layered story. She apologized several times for bending our ears, but we reassured her that it was all right.
As I listened, I felt myself accessing my chaplainly skills. Something reminded me of situations with people in a chaplain situation. I knew I wasn’t in that particular, official role for that woman, but I could feel my active listening skills coming into play. I knew the ministry of presence was surrounding us, too. I could sense those spiritual tools right there inside me—ready, set, go!
I’m reminded of a passage of Scripture, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.” I saw the principle expressed in this verse shown by example today. As the four of us stood there, listening and talking, we had in common the consolation of God. Even as my new friend was afflicted by a serious, intricate, ongoing difficulty, all of us were able to share the consolation with which God has consoled each of us.
As my new friend finished relating her difficult story, I stepped closer to her. She took a deep breath and smiled at me with some relief. “I hadn’t realized how much I was holding inside.” She felt so much lighter after unburdening herself. I returned her smile and told her I was coordinator for an intercessory prayer ministry at my church. I asked whether we might pray for her, but she was hesitant to accept prayer—at first. I assured her that the prayer ministry would be happy to pray for her for four weeks, for her encouragement and comfort. That struck a chord. She nodded with gratitude, and thanked me. Then she apologized again, but had to leave. Her whole air and attitude seemed lighter as we said good bye.
I said only a few words to my new friend, but I listened, and encouraged her. And, we all shared in God’s consolation. Thank God we can be there, for one another. I’m thankful God is there for me, too.