Knocking on the Door of Your Family’s Heart

Eric Scott   -  

William Shakespeare wrote these words many years ago, and Mark Antony spoke them in the famous play Julius Caesar:

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”

What does this quote have to do with marriage and family? A lot! One of my pastors once said, “Listening is loving.” If listening is not happening in your family, it is an opportunity to ask, “Are we loving well here in this home?”

Think about it for a moment. When was the last time you heard, “Dad, are you even listening to me?” Or “Honey, did you even hear a word I said?”

We human beings have a deep desire to be seen and heard. And when we are not seen or heard, we look for others who may listen, or we medicate ourselves in other ways that are not healthy. We sincerely need family nurturing today. And one of the best forms of nurture is empathetic listening.

The dictionary defines empathy as “showing an ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”

The ability to both understand and share the feelings of another is crucial in empathetic listening. Truly listening is “knocking on the door of your family’s heart.”

Here are some steps you can take to engage in empathetic listening:

– Be present.If you are easily distracted, place yourself in front of your family member so that you are focused on them. You may need to take a walk. Do what you need to dial into the moment you are in with them.

– Listen.Listen to the words spoken with the goal of understanding, not responding. Often, we feel we need to formulate a response and soon realize we are operating from our personal agenda instead of listening so that we might serve our loved one.

– Clariphrase. What does that mean? It means responding to what you have heard by saying, “I believe what you are saying is, ‘X.’ Am I understanding you correctly?” If you did hear correctly, respond meaningfully. If you did not hear correctly, ask for more clarity.

– Don’t be a fixer.Some people want to produce a quick fix for the problem. Don’t get pulled into that mistake unless you are specifically asked to do something. And even then, you’ll need to be careful not to jump in and do what they should be doing for themselves.

– Pray. Ask if it would be okay to pray and then slowly pray as you listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Your prayer should reflect what you have heard and what you are hearing from the Holy Spirit.

Families are in serious need of empathetic listening in today’s world. Psychological research has even found that a healing process occurs when we share our story with an empathetic listener.

Can you imagine how the woman with the issue of blood from the New Testament felt when Jesus healed her? She came by faith, believing she would be healed if she touched Jesus’ garment. Jesus then stopped and asked, “Who touched me?”

At that moment, she knew she not only had been healed but she had been seen. She knew her voice of faith had been heard.

Who in your family needs to be heard? It is time to go in humility and simply start by asking, “How are you?”

Let’s bring healing to our families. Let’s listen with empathy.