When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving advice,
you have not done what I have asked.
When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel the way I do,
you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do or say something to solve my problem,
you have failed me ... strange as that may seem.
When I am feeling angry, depressed, worried or discouraged let me express my feelings while you simply listen, and care.
Do not try to change my feelings.
You may feel uncomfortable in the presence of my pain, but please just be there with me.
I’m uncomfortable, too.
When you try to distract me with humor or premature optimism, I start to feel ashamed of my negative feelings,
as if they are unimportant or a sign of weakness on my part.
You do not need to tell me if you feel my pain and understand what I am feeling.
I will be able to see that in your eyes.
Trying to tell me when I do not see it in your eyes will only assure me that you really do not understand.
Let me be weak or angry.
I am struggling with pain and I need support ... not advice.
Do not appear impatient or disinterested.
This just compounds the pain and makes me doubt myself even more.
When you reject my emotions as unimportant,
harmful or even unspiritual, this merely adds to my feelings of isolation and failure.
When you listen to my pain and frustration with tender-hearted compassion
it strengthens my faith more than quoting a million Bible verses would do.
I know the spiritual truths already, that God cares and will guide me.
I need to experience God’s love and compassion through your caring and listening and ministry of presence.
I need God in your flesh to hug me, cry with me, and assure me of your concern, love, and support.
I do need your prayers for me and with me, but to be there with me is the best answer to prayer.
I do not need professionalism ... I need a friend.
Do not try to help me analyze my feelings and understand why I am feeling them.
Do not reassure me by using cliches such as “Time will heal all things” or “God is in control.”
I know these things, but at the moment I need to express my pain and hurt to someone who cares that I hurt.
The truths that I already know will surface later when the raging emotions are calmed.
Be a help to me in the storm, even when you would rather not enter into the pain with me.
Often the feelings of rejection and loneliness are the most painful of all the feelings I have.
When you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational it may seem,
then I can quit trying to convince you and can get about the business of understanding what’s behind my pain.
When that is clear, the answers will be obvious and I can move beyond the anguish.
So, please listen and just hear me.
And when you find yourself in pain, please let me be your friend, and listen to you,
for I have learned just how important listening really is.