by Sharon Swing, Co-Author of Listen To My Life: Maps for Recognizing and Responding to God in My Story
I recently witnessed a conversation that was beautiful in its vulnerability.
The level of honesty was disarming and uncomfortable for the woman disclosing her story. She began to repeatedly clear her throat. The listener spoke simple questions and observations, without judgment, that led to a deeper self-awareness for the speaker.
“I notice you sound irritated when you talk about your lack of progress.”
And later, “I notice you used words that sounded like you are comparing yourself to someone else.”
“What would it be like to disclose that you are fearful to your family?”
Long silences were interspersed with deeper disclosure.
A person’s soul came out of hiding, naming her fear, jealousy, and a pervasive and persistent amount of behavior relating to being stuck.
Pausing for the emotion that surfaced, the listener honored the significance of what was happening.
I kept thinking, “The truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) “Keep it coming.”
The listener knew that the acceptance and silence opened a door toward something deeper, something beautiful, something healing. He held open the space that allowed God to do His work in the soul of the listener. I could imagine God saying, “I’m so glad you have come to a new level of awareness and honesty. Now, I can do something with that!” I got the sense that God had been wooing her toward an honest disclosure for quite some time. I had the privilege of witnessing a person telling themselves the truth, and then telling it to God. Some might call it confession.
I experienced, once again, the importance of The Guidelines for Listening in the Listen to My Life experience that include the concept of ‘unconditional acceptance.’ Curiosity won over judgment, and the paradox of ugly, beautiful truth emerged. God trades secrets for healing, hope, courage and peace.
Questions To Ponder:
- Feeling stuck?
- Might there be a listener that can offer you unconditional acceptance to help you bring what has been hidden into the light?
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
Father thank you for the gift of love revealed when we listen well to one another. Help me to listen with unconditional acceptance that opens doors of healing and hope. Replace my judgment with curiosity. Give me the courage to listen in deep ways that allow others to receive the gifts found in vulnerability.
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