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If You Have Never

Guilt

Job’s friends were great counselors, until they opened their mouths. -Tullian Tchividjian

If you have never seen your beloved father take his last breath at 52 years old after a two-year brutal battle with cancer, you can listen to my grief, but you can’t speak into my wounds

If you have never seen your child be poked and prodded for days as doctors and nurses try to find the cause of her medical issue, you can listen to my fear, but you can’t speak into my stress

If you have never had a loved one spend months in a psychiatric hospital crying that they are ready to leave this world, you can listen to my pain, but you can’t speak into the deep cry in my soul

If you have never raised a child without the other parent in her life, you can listen to my hopes for her, but you can’t speak into our daily struggles

If you have never screwed things up so bad that you can’t see light at the end of the tunnel, you can listen to my doubts, but you can’t speak into the source of my guilt and shame

If you have never been hurt in ways that make you feel dirty and shameful, you can listen to my sobs for restoration, but you can’t speak into the tattered pieces of my soul

If you have never been so depressed that you don’t know if you can make it to tomorrow, you can listen to the depths of my despair, but you can’t speak into the source

If you have never walked away from a church because you no longer experience the freedom of the Gospel there, you can listen to my laments, but you can’t speak into my grieving heart

If you have never experienced the panic of having to walk into the doors of another church unsure if you’ll experience the Gospel there, you can listen to my anxious ramblings, but you can’t speak into the chaos spinning in my head

If you have never had a doubt that what you’ve believed your whole life couldn’t be true, you can listen to my questions, but you can’t speak into the place where those doubts were planted

If you must speak, please speak the Good News of Jesus, who has been with me through every single hurt and pain, every tear and secret shame; whose life, death and resurrection has cleansed every single spot and stain.

Listening as Spiritual Hospitality – Henri Nouwen

To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.

Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.

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