Helping a Friend with...

Anxiety or Depression Part 3

This is the final blog on listening. We've covered ways to help your friend (or yourself) when you struggle with anxiety or depression. By practicing vulnerability, listening with love, and asking well thought out questions, we can love like Jesus.

Today I want to finish up my thoughts on how powerful listening can be to help our friends reframe how they see and feel about themselves.

Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” – Mark 9:5-7

Listening Changes Lives

This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a mountain and they were joined by two guests (Moses and Elijah). Quite an impressive crowd if you ask me. But Peter did not come to listen and learn; instead he comments when he should have been listening.


Peter reacted out of fear instead of love. We've all done this. We speak before listening (Proverbs 18:3) and miss out on something important. I've said things before and as they were coming out of my mouth, I realized it was too late–I wish I could grab them back! But the damage was done. I am learning to listen before answering. How about you?


God wanted to communicate something very important, but Peter did not come to listen. So He enveloped them in a bright cloud and issued a seemingly strong correction to get His point across. Over seven hundred times you find the words "listen" and "hear" in the Scriptures. God is serious about this one. Why?


Listening can radically change a life. We interpret our lives though stories or narratives. As I shared last week, that is the way we make sense of and understand our lives– through storytelling. God told stories to help us understand Him and that's how He created us–as storytellers.


Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”

– Luke 8:18


Storytelling validates us as humans. Don't you feel affirmed when you get to tell a story? Most of us love telling stories of our lives and when others listen, we feel validated and important. Especially those stories that hurt or are challenging to us. When you find a friend who will listen (and ask questions) long enough for you to process an event in your life, you've found a true friend. Make sure you return the favor.


When we tell stories, we come to understand our lives more clearly and gain new insights to what happened. Sometimes just hearing ourselves tell a story allows us space to consider a different way to understand the story. That is where good questions come in. Asking your friend a few good questions as you also listen, can lead to a better understanding of the situation. And better understanding can lead to a decrease in anxiety and depression.


Listening with love can help us to reframe how we interpret our stories, which can change our lives. This is powerful. By simply listening and asking a few good questions, we can help a friend to think differently and more positively about their role and God's role in a narrative.


Check out this short video on listening!


I've had plenty of friends help me look at difficult situations with a different lens and come to interpret a potentially negative situation in a different light–they've changed my life by simply lending me their heart and ears.
Try it this week. Take a friend out for a walk and listen to their burdens. Listen like Jesus and ask a few well thought out questions that lead the conversation toward God. You might just find yourself changing a life!
May God bless you as you walk with Him in 2020!

Look for more in the coming weeks on how to build positive communication with your friends.


Dr. Timothy Sumerlin
In Motion Counseling