One of the things we talk about in psychology is how simply listening can be healing. And I think we all know this from our own lives and relationships. When I am hurting, hearing words of wisdom or similar life experiences can be helpful, but it’s really a person’s wholehearted presence that brings comfort and hope. I want to feel seen, understood, accepted and loved.
Somehow, though, over the years (I’m not that old, so I’m not sure how many years, haha), it seems like we have become so consumed by the need to be fully understood and not judged, that we are quick to dismiss any kind of wisdom or advice offered. All of a sudden, people have to “measure up” to these invisible standards and earn the right to speak truth into our lives. If there’s something we don’t like about the person, or if we know of an area in their life that is not up to par, or if they say something we already knew, we feel offended by their attempts to impart wisdom to us.
Maybe this is not you, but I know in my heart, this has definitely been me. And I think it reflects our culture these days…our obsession with tearing down any and all authorities, and with preserving our own rights, autonomy, and confidence in ourselves. I am my own expert, and I know what’s best for me. My experience and my feelings are not only valid, they define truth for me. Even within the Church, these ideas have subtly become a part of our thinking.
But the thing is, the Gospel is different. Jesus is different. Jesus says that He is the way, the Truth, and the life. Jesus is the same — yesterday, today, and forever. We believe in a Truth that transcends culture, life experiences, and even our own feelings and perspectives. It’s not that these things don’t matter, but that they themselves cannot encompass the full measure of Truth. And we believe in a Truth that does not discriminate; it can be found on the lips of the broken, the poor, the mighty and the weak. No matter what packaging it comes in, truth is still truth.
And if I am totally honest with myself, this is exactly the kind of Truth I need. I need a Truth that is bigger than my circumstances. I need a Truth that holds me steady when everything else is confusing, and blurry, and inconsistent. I need a Truth that doesn’t rely on me, that is the same with or without me. I need a Truth that is so simple, it takes childlike faith to receive it.
So bring it on. Bring on the cliches, the simple Gospel truths that I have come to love. God, help me to have an unoffended heart that cares more about what You are trying to say than about who is saying it. When I offer truth to others, I want to be one who listens first and seeks to understand. And when others share with me, may I be one who tests everything and holds onto the good, who humbles myself enough to listen and receive Truth wherever it may be found.