When my friend complained that a female colleague pursued him, I had an opinion. I believed he must have done something to encourage her, and I suggested that possibility.
When a couple from our church had a nasty break up, I believed she left him for greener pastures, and I took sides.
When a new sailor came into our command and made friends with a man I’d known for nearly a year, suddenly my old friend got in trouble with the shore patrol. It was my opinion the new guy was totally to blame, and I shunned him.
I avoided a former classmate every time I saw her because she gushed about her troubles when ever she managed to corner me. It was my considered opinion that there was nothing anyone could do to make her happy, so why waste my time trying.
Then I faced difficulties of my own. My pain was so great I couldn’t contain it. I’d stuffed my feelings daily for years, like adding one drop of water at a time to a bucket. Now the bucket was full and incapable of holding another drop. Every event from that point on caused my bucket to overflow. Like my classmate I placed my burdens on the shoulders of anyone who would listen. I discovered many people avoided me because they believed there was nothing they could do to help me so why bother. Others believed I was responsible for my problems and when I straightened up my act everything would be okay. Still others felt I had character flaws and I would continue my downward spiral until I straightened up and flew right. In short these folks had their opinion and wanted nothing to do with me. Some avoided me while others offered their opinions and their advice.
In time I found a couple people who listened to me, they accepted me and they offered no opinions, and no advice. Time after time my bucket overflowed in their presence and time after time they accepted me and listened and never offered an opinion. I discovered great healing in being accepted for who I was. I found healing because I wasn’t judged. Healing didn’t come from those who tried to fix me, but from those who merely listened. I was never shuffled off as an inconvenience, instead I was heard and their eyes showed concern but their mouths held back any opinions they might have had. My healing came from hearing my own voice expressing my pain, but until I heard my own voice in the presence of totally accepting people it was a broken record that only deepened the pain. It took the love and concerned faces of people coupled with my own voice for healing to arrive.
This I believe, when all is said and done my opinion isn’t what matters. Opinions and advice exacerbate problems, while empathy is a healing save.
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