Holy Listening – Dignity and Value
Used with permission: Mental Illness Ministries (Chicago), 2022. http://www.miministry.org/support.htm
Holy listening, that is, listening in the context of the healing presence of God, means hearing what a person tells us and letting their story unfold at their pace. It affirms a person’s dignity and value. Their story is a sacred story. We respond and react to their story in a non-judgmental way with an unconditional love for the person. Holy listening allows and encourages people to relate their experiences in a supportive atmosphere that leads to comfort and healing. Holy listening brings one to a richer understanding of God’s unconditional love for us through our acceptance of one another. It leads to a mutuality of understanding that allows the person who is ministering to another to begin to see that they are being ministered to as well. This supportive process leads to solidarity and mutuality that enriches faith and hope. The listener also becomes the learner and both journey the path together to wholeness and holiness. We are not leading or following each other, we are walking side by side.
Such mutuality of understanding creates an environment that gives a person “permission” to tell their story, which they may otherwise feel too uncomfortable or too embarrassed or too stigmatized to tell. It’s about creating a safe place for people to share their story.
When someone comes to share his or her story of joy or pain it is a very intimate conversation. We should not intrude on their story except for clarifications. Gradually the trust level is built and the conversations deepen.
People come to us searching for answers, finding the why in suffering, what did I do wrong, is God punishing me, does God listen to me? We know illness does not come from God, and God loves us unconditionally. However it can take time for us to come to a better understanding of that. Healing takes time so we do not rush. We allow the healing process to unfold.
Listening with a sense of sacredness for the person’s life makes the sharing a Holy experience, allowing for God’s healing presence.
Source: Mental Illness Ministries (Chicago) http://www.miministry.org/support.htm