Was talking to my mom last night. The topic turned to the end of the world. Mom, (a staunch Christian) told me she was filled with anxiety and dread over it (she believes the world is going to end). Mom told me she was cleaning up her life so that she would be counted worthy to meet Jesus when he arrived. She was eating better and exercising (lost 50 pounds!) and working on forgiving.
Several thoughts ran through my head as I sat there listening. First, I wanted to change her mind so that I could save her from the fear gripping her. I wanted to interrupt her (she was on a roll) and say, “Mom, the world isn’t going to end; only the systems are and they are just going to change. You have every reason to be hopeful … it’s going to be better!”
Secondly, I reminded myself that it is not my place to try to change her. If I really loved her, I’d honor her right to believe as she wanted. I’d simply act as a sounding board, allowing her to voice the fear without trying to change anything. (Hard but doable.)
Thirdly, I realized that Mom’s fear could be a good thing. After all, it was motivating her to make positive changes in her life. Releasing all that pain, anger, and resentment would not only help Mom, it would help all those she forgives as well.
Lastly, the day will come when Mom, along with the rest of the world, will discover how much she has been lied to by the government, politicians, and religious leaders. The truth will most certainly upset her and she will need someone to talk to. Many will totally lose it and some will take their lives due to the overwhelming sense of betrayal along with having the foundation upon which they based their lives totally ripped apart. Perhaps by listening and allowing now, I am making it possible for her to remain calm and listen to me when the time comes. I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic here, but it is possible that it could save her life.
So I sat there listening, enjoying our talk and chiming in with a few “Uh huhs and Yep, I hear ya’s as needed.
When I hung up the phone, I made note of four things.
- It feels good when I let go of the need to change someone’s mind.
- It feels good not to have expended the energy to fix or rescue my friend from her pain. (I could feel my inner child sighing with relief.)
- Once again, fear has a value in that it becomes a catalyst for positive change.
- How grateful I was that my mother didn’t need me to believe as she did in order for us to maintain a relationship.
So today, my friend feels good that I could just listen and allow her to express her fears and feelings without fear of rejection or fixing. I feel good that our friendship has deepened despite the fact that we believe so differently.
Thought I’d share this little story with you in case you are presented with the same situation. As time moves on and more of the hidden truth about our world gets revealed, those we love will find it more and more difficult to cope. If we can listen to them now, there is a chance that they will listen to us later … when it counts the most.