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Are We Listening? Do We Even Care?

June 19, 2017

Greetings,

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.  Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,…”  Ephesians 6: 18-19

Since I gave out my telephone number several years ago in the “About Captain Kirk” section of this blog site I have received quite a few calls.  I just knew there were folks out there who struggle with depression, PTSD, and other mental health issues like myself.  Plus there are others who called who just wanted to know more about Jesus and relational fellowship.  The calls I got range about 60-40 between those needing encouragement and prayer, and the other half calling to encourage and pray for me.  Plus there was that one mystery caller who rebuked me.  Putting your personal information out in public always carries risk, but it was a chance the Lord had me ready to take for the benefit of others.

Most all of those calling for help have experienced apathy and rejection from the “church” because of their issues.  They had been told by “church leaders” that they needed to pray more and sin less.  The majority of “Christians” out there have no clue of how to address, treat, or pray for those with mental issues, and what they don’t understand they tend to label as demonic activity.  When those who suffer reached out to the “church” for help, prayer and encouragement; what they got was rejection and judgement.

This is why most people who struggle with mental and emotional issues never ask for help.  Because when they have in the past they were totally misunderstood and then treated like some sort of leper.  Many who ask for help are then labeled “less than” and then ignored for the most part.  Unless they also happen to be a good tither.  This is what the “church” does when they don’t understand the person or the problem.  I am certain there are some “churches” out there who do help and understand, but for the most part this is not true.  And it is not just the “churches” that don’t understand, it is society in general.

Back in 1992 when I was working as a psychiatric technician in a lock down unit we admitted a young woman who was very disturbed and depressed after a suicide attempt.  She was not fooling around either.  Instead of slashing horizontally on her wrists she did so vertically down the length of her forearms.  It was a miracle she did not bleed out and die.  The reason behind that drastic attempt was that her “church” told her that her secular music collection was the root of her mental illness and they forced their way into her apartment took her collection and burned it all right in front of her.  She was obsessed with John Lennon and owned everything he ever released including all the works of the Beatles.  They had to hold her down as they destroyed her many years of work collecting these albums.  That totally wrong and insensitive action really freaked her out and drove her deeper into depression and resulted in her attempting to take her own life.  I got to work with her several weeks at the unit and near the end of her stay I was led to simply share Jesus with her.  She responded well and received her freedom in Christ that very day.  Because I earned her trust and did not try to change or manipulate her in any way, we are still in touch all these years later.  In fact she now lives in the same apartment complex as I do.  She still struggles at times, but Jesus has made a HUGE difference in her life.

So how can we help the suffering?  Mostly by listening and allowing people to tell their own whole story.  If they can get what is bothering them off their chest it helps immensely.  If you are a totally engaged listener you are far more likely to be trusted than those who only listen in part because they feel they need to supply immediate feedback and an antidote.  We need to show love and appropriate concern, but the truth is that this does not take a whole lot of words on our behalf and surely not in the beginning.  After we have heard their story and prayed about it, we can then give them comforting words and support.  Remember Proverbs where it says, “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is the timely spoken word.”

This is a HUGE topic and I am not an expert by any means, but I hope what I have shared here helps some.  When you pray for someone it is vitally important that we only pray as the Spirit leads us.  In most cases I am not equipped to give expert advice.  So I hold back on what I think I want to say and instead hopefully say only what God desires me too.  Thanks to all those who called to encourage me, I really appreciate it.  Let me stress this one more time….NEVER underestimate the value of listening.  To both God and those you seek to serve.

Love and….

Kirk Out !

p.s.  Sometimes folks need more than prayer or wise counsel.  At times they may need medication and medical support.  Pray about it and don’t play doctor.  If you feel they may need professional help, call and help them make an appointment.  If possible drive them there yourself.  It is important to be there for them before, during, and after the healing process. Sometimes a friend is just exactly what they needed all along.

 

 

 

 

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4 Comments
  1. Sue heumann permalink

    I appreciate this confirmation, Christopher, of what seems to be a very lacking characteristic among Fellow believers. It’s much easier for some to just talk over the feelings of others and not really hear the hurt they are expressing. We all are guilty, I’m sure …. But I just appreciate the listening attitude you have and are sharing with us and encouraging us to have. Amen brother.

    • Thank you for your encouragement Sue and for recognizing the need to listen to others.

  2. tom ball permalink

    Chris, what you have written here is, IMHO, absolutely on target! It squares with my experience working with abuse survivors, dissociative identity disorder, ritual abuse, and mind control.

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