Gentle Listeners

Many years ago, a neighbor, with whom I was slightly acquainted, called one day ranting on the phone. Holy Spirit promptly said, “Just listen; don’t react.” The more she talked, the more I realized her state of being.  The grace of God stirred in me tender understanding in spite of her erratic behavior.

Our three oldest children standing beside me ~ trying to listen in to her screams ~ were bewildered about my neighbor’s accusations. Their first thoughts were that they had done something wrong. Nodding gently to them, I wiped their tears and reassured them that they had not erred.

She insisted that my children and all other neighborhood children were not allowed in her yard to play with her son. It made her very nervous, she said. Her fears were that her son might get hurt in the midst of play. I assured her that I respected her wishes, and that I would make certain that my children did not play in her yard.

Sadly, this left her son standing at their property edge nearly the whole summer watching all of the children play outside together. Neighborhood children saw the pain of isolation on her son’s face as he suffered at his mother’s demands. Our children prayed for him throughout the summer months, asking the Lord to release him from the captivity of his mother’s unfounded fears.

One August day, after her son suffered so much sadness, she relented and asked that the children be able to return to her yard to play. How delighted we were for her son. Isolation had been a cruel punishment ~ not at all deserved by this young boy.

Wounded people so often wound others. Our hearts ached for the pain and mental confusion this mother endured. Our prayers, however, did bring release to her … and our children grew in mercy and understanding.

“God’s servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey. You never know how or when God might sober them up with a change of heart and a turning to the truth, enabling them to escape the devil’s trap, where they are caught and held captive, forced to run his errands.” [2 Timothy 2:25-26 The Message]

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