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Longing to be Heard
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I don’t handle anger and shouting very well, but as a volunteer in a residence for the elderly, the infirm and the too-often confused, I realize that the anger is not about me and that the shouting is just a desperate longing to be heard—really heard.

My first impression when confronted with anger is to walk away and not come back. I can’t solve the situation. It is not my place to be any more than a friendly face and a caring heart. But when my own peace feels shattered by the outburst, the “caring heart” wants to hide. It is then I recognize my inadequacy. It is then I become acutely aware that the “mineral” content of my heart is not gold but granite.

I don’t have to be in a nursing home for this to happen. We learn from childhood to try to hide from others’ displeasure. Adam and Eve tried to hide from God, knowing that they had disobeyed and failed him. Cutting someone off because of fear and timidity is not the answer.

(This is not about abusive spouses, parents, friends or siblings. There is a difference between expressing anger at the injustices and hurts of life—or someone’s behavior—and directing anger at a person or persons with the intent to cause harm. When the Bible says, “Turn the other cheek,” it does not mean to stay around for an abusive spouse, date—or anyone—to strike you or harm you. Love NEVER intentionally harms.)

Something Amazing Happens

For too many years I walked away from people’s hurt and anger. I couldn’t solve it. Why go home with it hurting in my head and heart? Then I discovered the answer. My head and my imperfect heart could not do anything to help. But if I ask God to place HIS heart in me—HIS love for this person—something amazing happens.

No big miracles that take away the hurts and troubles, but “little miracles” of trust and friendship and someone knowing that even if she hollers at me for an hour about all the injustices in her life, I will come back. I will listen to her vent her grief and anger and at the end, I will hug her and pray with her. I will not be put off by the mood swings of manic depression, or the side-effects of medication changes.

I will hear his frustration and hurt that no one from work or the club comes to visit any more and realize that he is dumping words and pain on me because I have become his friend and I am maybe the only one willing to take time to listen. Nothing restores dignity so well as knowing that you have a friend who affirms your worth by simply being your friend.

God’s “heart” in us gives one all-encompassing message to share: “…I love you with an everlasting love…” (Jeremiah 31:3).

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By Lois Pecce. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the COMPLETE JEWISH BIBLE ©.

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