Bearing One Another's Burdens by Listening Without Judgement

This topic of, bearing one another’s burdens, actually comes from a chapter in our book, “Raising a Generation of Ladies and Gentlemen.” This also comes from scripture. The idea is that we have a responsibility to one another to help carry one another's burdens. 

We all have our favorite people that we like to talk to and one of those people for me was my grandmother. She was an incredible listener. I’m not quite sure how she did it, I've tried to think about it. Was it the way she looked at me? Was it the way that she tilted her head whenever I was telling her something? Was it because she never really offered me advice? She really didn't. I can't remember my grandma after confining in her a problem I was having ever saying, “Well, Monica, I think you need to do this.” Nevertheless, after I would talk to her about my problems, I felt better. Also, a lot of times as I discussed things with her, at the end of the conversation I would have some ideas about things I might could do to help fix the problem. As I've thought about that over the years, I think her gift was just listening.

I never felt like she was judging me because as you can imagine as a teenager, I made a lot of crazy mistakes and I'm sure as I sat there telling her my dilemmas that deep down she was going, “Oh dear gracious child, how could you be so dumb?” But boy, she never made me feel that way. She just listened. I just knew she loved me and that she just wanted to show her love to me, and so she listened. I know that one of the greatest gifts we can give to others carrying burdens is to listen.

Now, that’s easier said than done, to listen without judgment is hard. It’s hard not to get animated or emotional when we see people we love making foolish decisions. However, typically, I haven't changed my behavior based on someone telling me, “Monica, that was so foolish. You should have done this, or you need to do this.” Usually, that's not what made me go, “Hey, you're right. I should do it this way.” Usually we come to our own determination after making mistakes, learning the hard way. Sometimes even listening to others experiences, and what they've learned, is a great way to grow, but usually we have to be ready to change our behavior.

Learning how to listen without judging others, learning how to listen without quickly jumping into wanting to give people advice is a great gift and a way that we can help carry other people's burdens. Probably if my children, hard me telling you all that we need to listen without giving advice, they would laugh at that because I give my children lots of advice. I am trying so hard not to give my adult children advice. It's a struggle that I am trying every week to get better about that. I know that my children and those that I love, respond to me the best when I listen without jumping to advice.

Often when we are in trouble, we typically don't want or need other people to solve our problems. However, like you’ve probably have heard me say before, it feels really good when people say things like, “Monica, I am so sorry that you're going through that. That makes me so sad that your family is struggling or that you're having to carry this burden.” It feels good just to know that people care. That is another way we can carry and bear one another's burdens, just showing that when they're sad, we're sad, and when they suffer, we suffer, because that's what we do when we love one another.

I heard a quote very recently and it said “When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble and you will be right more than half the time.” I thought that was such an interesting quote and I bet you that that quote is correct.

Anytime we're interacting with anyone, whether it's people that we know or people that we don't know, more than likely we're surrounded by several people who are in serious trouble. Maybe serious trouble with their marriage, serious trouble with their faith, serious trouble with their child, serious trouble at work or with a serious illness or a serious emotional need. 

If we could see those burdens, would we act differently? If only there was a bubble above everyone's head that listed the burdens that they were currently carrying. For example, if we could see that when we're waiting in the post office line, this lady in front of us was diagnosed with cancer three weeks ago, her mother is in failing health, she has a wayward son, et cetera, et cetera. If we had those bubbles above our head, do you think we would treat each other a little differently? Do you think we would be a little kinder? Do you think we would be more quick to smile and say “Hello, how are you?” Do you think it would change the way we treat one another? 

Just because we can't see those bubbles doesn’t mean those burdens aren’t there. They are there.

I'm a visual person, and so for me it helps me to imagine those bubbles when I interact with people, it helps me to think, “I wonder what their bubble would say.” That doesn't mean I need to know what their bubble would say, but I bet you they’ve got a bubble and I bet you there's some things written in it.

So as we interact with others, if we treat others as if they're in trouble, we probably would be right. Not just half of the time, but most of the time.

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