I don’t always treat my daughter right.
I have kind of struggled since my mom died.
It wasn’t that big of a deal. I just talked to him at work. It wasn’t inappropriate. I have battled depression since then.
I feel like a bad person.
I don’t think anyone loves me.
I kind of feel bad about falling down the stairs.
Taking People Seriously
When we help others we need to take them and their problems seriously. When people share with us they are often seeking relief. They may tell ten people that they feel bad, in hopes that one person will take them seriously, and find out why they feel bad.
One of the first helps we can give people is to listen. If I am really hurting then I want someone who will listen to my story. I need someone to listen to my story. I don’t want you to necessarily give me any answers. I just need to know that you care. If you listen to me, I know that you care.
If you take what I say seriously you will give me hope. Finally! Someone is taking what I say seriously, and wants to help. I can finally get some relief from my feelings.
Feelings follow actions. When we are obedient to God, no matter how difficult that is, good feelings will follow. When we are disobedient to God, bad feelings will follow. It’s God’s sign to us that something isn’t right and needs dealt with. If we, as helpers, don’t take people seriously when they come to us we won’t be able to help them deal with what is going on. Their bad feelings may be trying to tell them something, or they may be misplaced. We need to dig into the situation to find out.
Here are some example of ways we don’t take people seriously….
I don’t always treat my daughter right………………………………….That’s not true. You are a great parent.
I have kind of struggled since my mom died………… I am sure you have. We all do when we lose a loved one. Keep praying. God will give you peace.
It wasn’t that big of a deal. I just talked to him at work……………….I wouldn’t worry about it. You are a great Christian. No one would doubt that you love your husband.
I feel like a bad person……………God loves us. You aren’t bad. Trust in God. He will give you joy.
I don’t think anyone loves me…………..That’s not true. The Christian church body loves each other. I am sure your family and friends love you too. Don’t let Satan steal your joy.
I kind of feel bad about falling down the stairs…………Well, it was an accident! Why would you feel bad? Let’s be thankful God protected you. What a blessing. God is good.
The Rest of the Story.
I sat in front of a women in a counseling room. She randomly told me that she felt bad about falling down some stairs when she was pregnant. I normally would have just overlooked that comment, except it was misplaced. It didn’t fit in with the questions I was asking her on the intake, and it wasn’t a part of our conversation at that point.
Why would you feel bad about falling? Well I had a miscarriage after I fell.
Tell me how you fell. She didn’t answer at first.
Do you remember how you fell? Do you remember what happened? Yes.
Can you tell me what happened? Well, I did it on purpose. I wanted to lose the baby. I didn’t want to have it, and was afraid to get an abortion. So I flung myself down the stairs and the fall caused my miscarriage.
With this knowledge, we had a very different conversation. At first I might have thought she needed help dealing with a miscarriage, but in reality she needed help dealing with what she had done. I never would have known that if I didn’t take her statement seriously, and address it.
If I didn’t help her address this then she would still be walking around with the guilt of killing her child. Something that grace and forgiveness deliver us from. Because God put me in her life I was able to help her deal with the guilt, and set her free from the feelings that were constantly reminding her that she had done something wrong.
Confession & Forgiveness
The “I don’t treat my daughter right conversation” turned out to be that the mother was leaving her daughter at home alone at night while she went out and got drunk and ran around with men.
The “I have kind of struggled since my mom died” turned out to be that her mother had confronted her daughter the day before she died about this behavior. It was their last conversation, and this added guilt to her time of grieving.
The “I just talked to him at work conversation” ended up to be an affair of the heart accompanied with a lot of fantasizing, the development of emotional intimacy and flirting at work. It was wrong and the woman I was helping knew it. Her guilt was feeding her depression. Once we dealt with it she started to get better.
The conversations I had with these women were difficult, but they were also beautiful. The Holy Spirit was already prompting them to deal with what they had done wrong. God was allowing the feelings of guilt to move them towards confession and asking for forgiveness. These women were ready for someone to take them seriously so that they could share their story.
Of course those women didn’t need me, they could have confessed to God on their own. I just happen to be in their life at the right time. I believe that I gave them hope because I took what they said seriously, and addressed it. It gave them the hope they needed to confess what they had done, and then ask God for forgiveness.
We are but tools God uses to do a work in other peoples lives. Everyday we have people like this in our lives who we can help. We first need to listen, and then take what they say seriously. Perhaps God will use us to hear their story, and then encourage them to confess to God what they have done, and seek forgiveness. Oh, how freeing forgiveness is. A new life awaits those who receive it.
If we are driven by guilt, then let’s confess to God. Tell Him what you did wrong, and then ask Him for forgiveness. God is faithful to forgive. His grace covers.
Seeking and savoring God,