To Whom Can We Turn?

We all have times in life when we need a sympathetic ear. The key is to know when and where we can go for help

Written by Earle Donelson

From time to time, everyone needs to bend or lend an ear. We all have issues, concerns, problems, challenges to meet or decisions to make. Sometimes, we just need a sounding board—someone who can give advice or suggestions—or simply someone to really listen and hear us. Just talking about things can be cathartic, calming, energizing and/or clarifying. It is at these times, when things come down so thick you feel like you should wear a hat, that we typically turn to our spouses, friends or family and, of course, to God in prayer.

Then there are those times when a problem or an issue is so personal, so sensitive or painful or embarrassing that we might not feel we can share it even with those with whom we have the closest relationships. Or maybe we feel we've already discussed it too much with family members and friends, and they are tired of hearing about it. Perhaps, our trouble is of a spiritual nature.

At these times, our pastor may be able to offer a supportive ear to bend. He or she may be able to direct or encourage us in a spiritual nature. There are also times when the issues may be too sensitive to share even with our pastor. After all, as humans we sometimes behave in ways that might not be considered too "faith-like." Being a "Good Christian" isn't always easy or clear-cut. While the topic of "sin" is one that our pastor is familiar with, we may not always want our pastor to be that familiar with our "sin(s)." At times likes these, a pastoral counselor or therapist can provide the ear we need. Knowing when to go to family and friends and when it might be time to see a counselor or therapist can be a difficult decision but one well worth the thought and effort.

As it is often said: "Life is the Great Adventure." It can be such a wonderful, joyful adventure. However, it's not always a smooth adventure, and the journey we take in life and in faith can be bumpy. It's full of turns and surprises, joys and disappointments, brambles and thorns, questions and struggles, raging seas and still waters. It is a journey of growth, change and discernment. It is a journey in which we all need to recognize the benefit of bending an ear and when and which ear we need to bend. Or lend. But it's a journey in which we are not alone. We are accompanied by our spouses and partners, our family and friends, our pastors, and those whose vocation it is to provide therapeutic solutions with an open ear.

And, of course, it is a journey we make with God. We can always go to God. An ear that's always available for bending; an ear that's always nurturing; an ear that's always loving; and an ear that's always accepting. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Come to Me, all who toil and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
— Matthew 11:28

Copyright © Earle Donelson