4. Love by listening
One of the things I most needed, and few gave, was Love.
Love that is quiet and strong.
Love that holds but doesn’t smother.
Love that shows respect but doesn’t rescue.
Love that is just being there, not with all the right answers, the technical knowledge, the problem solving, but love that just sits with you and is quiet.
Love that invites you into being held.
Spiritual writer Henri Nouwen experienced a time where he was ‘flat on the ground and in total darkness’. He had a friend that stepped into this darkness. An elderly priest he turned to. He describes the Love in this way
During the most difficult period of my life, when I experienced great anguish and despair, he was there. Many times, he pulled my head to his chest and prayed for me without words but with a Spirit – filled silence that dispelled my demons of despair and made me rise up from his embrace with new vitality.1
I wonder what the sterile Pharisee and Levite (Story of the Dehumanised Man) would have thought of this embrace on the Jericho road of life.
Few gave me this love, those that did will forever be my friends.
A leader in the field of psychotherapy, Dr. Hans Strupp, reviewed 50 years of research into the effectiveness of psychotherapy and came to the conclusion that
‘if you are anorexic or depressed or if you are experiencing difficulties with significant people in your life, chances are that you will feel better if you talk to someone you trust’2
Love will always win!
5. Too many stressor straws It’s the last straw that breaks the laden camel's back.
There is a limit to everyone's endurance. Everyone has a breaking point.
A place where the stress load carried is just too much for the fragile self. It might be the everyday conscious pressures of life. It might also be the subconscious pressures from past unresolved hurts that we all carry.
Then another stressor gets added to the burden. It could be just a little thing, but with you buckling at the knees already it is enough to send you crashing into depression.
Jesus refered to our stress load being like a yoke that we carry around our shoulders.
His yoke, his expectations, are light not heavy. Listen to his invitation.
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)
Jesus doesn’t fit anything heavy or ill fitting on us.
If that’s the case, then who does? You, others, society, church …?
It’s our responsibility to identify, with him, the straws that we carry.
The solution is to do something about the stressor straws. It will be a combination of problem solving the stressors, learning some new skills, and possibly some medication.
What are we carrying? What do we need to do about it?
Do what you can, not hope to do or should do and leave the miracles up to God.
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1. Henri Nouwen, Our Greatest Gift (New York: HarperCollins, 1994), 114.
2.Steven Hallon, “The Efficacy and Effectiveness of Psychotherapy Relative to Medications,” American Psychologist (October 1966): 1025