Most of us overlook the story where God gave Adam the power to name the animals. (Read it in Genesis 2:19-23.) But when we think about it, one of the most powerful gifts God gave humanity is the power to name. In naming, we gain control over a situation. It’s when we’re able to describe it to someone else that we begin to understand how we can address the situation.
That is why listening is so important. When someone is dealing with something that is so deep and so painful that they’re afraid to speak it, that secret keeps control over them. So until they can get to the point where they can say, “Here’s what happened,” or “Here’s the mistake I made,” or Here’s what somebody else did to me,” they are trapped by the fear someone will find out one day and hold the past against them.
So, when you’re walking with somebody on their life journey and they start telling you their story, understand this is some of the most powerful stuff that happens in a person’s life. This is why listening is so important.
You see, it’s when they begin to understand that we love them enough to hear their story—when we hear their frustration, when we listen to them with the love of Christ and still stick with them as they name their past and what’s going on—that’s when we are able to be part of their experiencing the love of Christ.
They are desperately afraid that once they tell you what has happened, you will run away from them or you will be horrified and never speak to them again. But when you’re able to stay there and love them anyway, that becomes a tremendously healing moment.
So here are the obvious questions:
- Is there a secret within your own life that you’re prisoner to?
- Do you know somebody with a secret that’s holding them hostage to a past?
- How can you engage in a conversation that will make it safe for the secret to come out?
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