Thursday, 03 March 2016 08:38

We Are On Holy Ground When Listening to Others

Written by  Nancy Thomas
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In January, I discussed, Soul Shop, the upcoming suicide prevention training. Now, I am thankful to report that Soul Shop trained more than 150 people in the evening community discussion and the day-long training.  This month, I would like to share some of what we learned at the training from Fe Anam Avis.


The statistics on suicide are staggering: 
• 1 in every 17 adults is currently considering suicide. 
• 1 in every 6 high school students has seriously considered suicide in the past year.
• 1in every 3 persons has been impacted by the suicide of someone close to them.
• 1in every 4 persons has experienced suicidal thinking but was too embarrassed and ashamed to tell anyone.
• 33% of us have lost a loved one to suicide.


The two major causes of suicide are loss of hope and loss of social connection.  Even though we may not be medical or clinical professionals, each of us can offer hope and social connection to those who are struggling with these losses.

Each participant had a story to tell about the suicide of someone they knew. Their grief for that person continues.  “Second Day People,” survivors of suicidal desperation, who have found a new reason to live, were also present.  Most Second Day People had others come alongside them in their journey to hope and recovery.

The hardest part of coping is finding someone safe to talk to about suicide.  Suicidal people determine whether you are a safe person by listening to your casual conversations. Are your conversations encouraging, compassionate and merciful toward others or are they critical, judgmental and intolerant of those who are struggling?  Are you dismissive, in a hurry, or are you willing to be fully present in the moment with others? Perhaps you can be that safe person to someone with suicidal desperation.

When talking to someone with suicidal desperation listen, allow them to tell their story. Then lead them to safety, place them in good hands and stay in touch. 


James1:19: Be quick to listen, slow to speak.


During Soul Shop, Avis shared some humbling confession points. Each of us has:
• suspected others are suffering but did not ask.
• observed lives falling apart but did not inquire.
• felt nudged to invite conversation but feared connection.
• been quick to speak and slow to listen.
• told our stories when others needed us to listen.
• discouraged others from talking by our strong opinions and quick solutions.
• kept secrets we should not have kept. (particularly a problem for youth not knowing how to help)
• left people in danger when we should have offered sanctuary.


Learning to ask about suicide can save a life, strengthen the will to live, ease someone’s sorrow and lift a burden of shame. You don’t need special training but you do need love, a little skill, a network of support (knowing who to call for help) and the Holy Spirit who is available to all believers.


Isaiah 61:1-3: The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners…
2…to comfort all who mourn;
3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a garland instead of ashes,
    the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.


After others shared their spirit-filled prayers at the training, I read the October 31 passage from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young aloud. 


“Learn to listen to Me even while you are listening to other people.  As they open their souls to your scrutiny, you are on holy ground.  You need the help of My Spirit to respond appropriately. Ask Him to think through you, live through you, love through you.  My own Being is alive within you in the Person of the Holy Spirit. If you respond to others’ needs through your unaided thought processes, you offer them dry crumbs. When the Spirit em-powers your listening and speaking, My streams of living water flow through you to other people.  Be a channel of My Love, Joy, and Peace by listening to Me as you listen to others.”


I hope you will consider being a channel of God’s love to those who are suffering. Please let me know if you are inter-ested in training in this area.

Last modified on Thursday, 03 March 2016 10:04
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