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Kok's Recommended Antidote

The amount of stress that everyone is feeling these days can be overwhelming without having the right attitude when dealing with it, nor having an antidote that works by way of our behavior to each other.

Not that you need to be reminded . . . but let me just enumerate some of these stresses that come to mind: the pandemic, war in the Ukraine, economic turmoil, emotion-laden acronyms, such as BLM and LGBTQ, abortion, our political scene. With these things pressing on our minds and spirits every day, people want more than ever to be heard. These things are driving people apart.

Despite — or in addition to — the large issues mentioned above, everyone has their own personal tragedies, losses, and hurts. They need to be able to talk to SOMEONE about their feelings. People are filled with the need to be heard, and yet it seems that no one is listening. We are all feeling this need.

And so I present to you again one of the foundational concepts of our Care and Kindness Campaign. "Leave Your Story at the Door." The message in this concept is that we need to LISTEN to people. For too many of us, however, we can't listen for very long before we want to interrupt and tell our own story.

Paul Tillich was a German philosopher and Lutheran minister who died in 1965. So he spoke to this topic long before I did. His words were: The first duty of love is to listen, and the formula for doing this is:

- Listen to the other person's story.

- Listen to the other person's *full story*.

- Listen to the other person's full story *first*.

I used the word 'antidote' above — the antidote works for both the giver and the receiver. It is that you be more intentional in listening to people — listening BEYOND the day-to-day conversations about the weather, and the latest movie, and just chit-chat.

Draw them into deeper conversations, where they can begin to unburden their soul, just a bit. It will be tremendously healing to them, and it will help you, too, as you offer a loving, gentle ear. Focusing on another person as they share with you is an effective way of getting relief from your own concerns.


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