Helping a Friend with...

Anxiety or Depression Part 2

Last week I shared three ways to help your friend (or yourself) when you struggle with anxiety or depression. They were: 1) Be vulnerable, 2) Listen to understand, and 3) Ask well thought out questions.

Today I want to expand my thoughts on listening and how powerful this can be for all of us with any manner of struggles.

Listening with Love

You would think, everyone knows how to listen. Not so. There is a difference between active
and passive listening. Passive listening is hearing another person's words but not actively
engaging your heart. We can hear, but not listen. Too often we "highjack" the conversation
back to ourselves. However, active listening is an engagement of our hearts with each other.
Listening is an "art form."

Think about your own conversations. Do you sometimes feel frustrated or discouraged that
others will not listen to you? Do you walk away from a conversation feeling empty? Do you
sometimes feel like no one really knows you? Perhaps we're not all that good at listening as
a society or an individual.

To answer before listening— that is folly and shame. – Proverbs 18:13

The word "listen" is found 412 times in the Scriptures. Active listening is vital for any
kind of recovery from mental health challenges. Not only mental health challenges,
but just life itself. Listening is our way as humans to connect with each other.
Listening is how we become known. Check out this article.

Think about God. When He wanted to make himself known what did He do? He speaks
(and we listen) and He listens as we speak (prayer). Seems simple enough. But God listens in
a way that He hears our hearts. He listens with intention and compassion and in a way that
indicates He wants to know us intimately. And He answers, through His Word and the promptings
of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus, His Son is the same. Look at his interactions with the most hurting of his day. You get the sense
that Jesus was fully present when others spoke. Jesus listened with his heart and then spoke words
that healed.

A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen;

listen to him.” – Luke 9:35

We too, can become great listeners. Here is a challenge for you this week. Listen for ten minutes to someone else, without speaking (maybe a small question or a "tell me more" comment). Reflect back to them what you heard them say. Then ask a question that you think will move the conversation further along. See how long you can carry the conversation along.

My friend John, told me this listening exercise revolutionized his relationship with his daughter. This simple exercise created a two-hour conversation that provided breakthroughs in their relationship and it will in yours also. Try it.

Next week I want to share how good conversation can lead to healing in our lives. See you then!

May God bless you as you walk with Him in 2020!