Every one of us carries around inside of us hurts from the past. Many of us have moved past our past. Yet there are times that we experience a “flashback” and relive some of these events. How do you handle your pain? If you are a Christian, you have the opportunity to cast all of our cares upon Christ. He has promised to bear our burdens and cancel our transgressions. One of the responsibilities I had as a pastor was to listen to stories of pain and heartache of parishioners. One of the greatest gifts we can give to anyone is to be an empathetic, compassionate listener. There are so few safe people to talk with, and betrayal has hurt all of us. An encouraging and comforting listener is a rare find in this world. Finding a person who is willing to be vulnerable and share their hurts, and disappointments is likewise unique. Paul writes in Galatians 6:2, “Carry each other’s burden and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
How exactly do we carry each other’s burdens? I have already mentioned being a listening ear. Allow me to list a few possibilities of how we can carry each other’s burdens:
- Be sensitive Often, we are focused on ourselves, and yet if we each were on the lookout for someone needing to be encouraged and appreciated, we would be amazed that they are everywhere.
- Be confidential. Confidentiality is so important. Please, if you cannot keep confidences get help, and do not hurt others because of your issues.
- Be prepared Life is not always pretty. Prepare yourself spiritually and rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Don’t interrupt Focus on the individual and their words and the story they are telling, do not be so focused on what you are going to say that you do not listen.
- Be caring. Be attentive to the person and do not try to fix them. At this moment,you are a caring and listening instrument of the Holy Spirit. You are the compassionate, safe friend that is ministering to them, and you are to model a caring spirit.
- Listen hard! One of the greatest gifts that we give anyone is listening and being present with the one who is hurting.
- Speak healing. Your words can be a salve that brings relief. Prayerfully weigh your words; this is not the moment to give them five ways to grow and mature through adversity. Since I have written such an article, I believe there is a time to speak words to challenge and prod. The present moment is the time to be considerate and compassionate.
- Be vulnerable. I am not saying you should try the “if you think you have it bad, let me tell you about my problems.” I am saying acknowledge that you too have been in pain and know that it is not easy.
- Point to Christ. He is the one who helps us with our pain; He is the one to bring comfort and to transform the unimaginable into His masterpiece.
When someone opens up to us about their hurts and disappointments, Do not abuse or use the gift as fodder for the gossip mill. Take it to the Lord in prayer and be one who bears the burdens of others!