Pause for Thought by Ray Dadswell: Listen to me, really listen

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I SUPPOSE there are occasions for all of us when the greatest thing we need is a friend to take notice of us, spend time and sympathetically listen to what we have to say. No criticism, no judgment.

Here is the heartfelt plea of one such person. Maybe we can identify.

“When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving me advice, you have not done what I asked.

“When I ask you to listen to me and you begin telling me why I should feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings.

“When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me, strange as that may seem.

“Listen! All is asked you to do was listen, not talk or do, just hear me.

“Advice is cheap. Twenty-five cents will get you both Dear Abby and Billy Graham in the same newspaper, and I can do that for myself.

“I am not helpless. Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.

“When you do something for me that I can do for myself, you contribute to my fear and weakness.

“But when you accept as a simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to convince you and can get about the business of understanding what’s behind this irrational feeling.

“And when that is clear, the answers are obvious and I do not need advice.

“Irrational feelings make sense when we understand what is behind them.

“Perhaps that is why prayer works.

So, please listen and just hear me and if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn and I will listen to you.”

Way, way back, King Solomon, the preacher, penned these words: ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. A time to be silent and a time to speak’ (Ecclesiastes, chapter 3).

Appropriate words for those of us who say too much!

Ray Dadswell is an evangelist and teacher in the Eastbourne area, and meets with Gateway Christian Church.