In disagreements during our 15 years of marriage,
Marcy has sometimes said to me, "You need to accept my
feelings." Whenever she would say that, I would think,
I know I'm being an insensitive clod, but I don't
even know what that means! Because men tend to be
less in touch with feelings than women, I suspect many
couples have had similar experiences.
When Marcy came with a problem, I tried to FIX it. My
goal was to share something helpful. I didn't realize
Marcy needed something else first--she needed to feel
When a person comes to us with a problem, they may
not want an answer. Sometimes a person wants to know
whether they can share a weakness and still be accepted.
There is healing simply in being understood--even
if the listener never shares anything.
Proverbs 18:2 says, "A fool takes no pleasure in
understanding, but only in expressing his opinion." I
have always taken pleasure in sharing something helpful
with people; now God wants me to take pleasure in trying
to understand where people are coming from.
We must be willing to hear about all the petty concerns
and interests and desires and hopes. If we can learn to
do this, then as we listen carefully and watch, we shall
hear that person make a tentative statement of something
more. We shall find that the other is trying to let us
into a deeper and more sensitive level of his being. The
novel experience of being listened to has raised his
hopes. Perhaps there is another who cares after all, one
who would understand! Certainly we can never believe
that a person cares about us until he will listen to us.
If we accept these first tentative tests of our
acceptance, then the floodgates open and the whole human
being pours out with his guilt and faults and sins, with
his sense of despair and inadequacy and loneliness.