Sometimes, the hardest thing I have to do as a missionary is listening. I have heard life stories. I have heard joys and shared smiles. I have heard trials and tribulations. I have held people’s hands and let them cry. I have sat there and said nothing.
Sympathizing with people in desperate need of empathy seems… hollow.
What do you say to the person sitting in the chair next to your desk crying because they’re overwhelmed with shame? How do you comfort someone who doesn’t believe themselves to be more than their disease? How do you hold back tears as you listen to them cough, watching their chest depress every time because they’re skin and bone wondering whether or not it will kill them? What do you say to someone letting their disease consume them?
I wish I had the answers. This is why listening is so difficult.
It isn’t easy opening up to a complete stranger; to spill your deepest fears to a person you met not even a minute before. It takes an amazing amount of courage.
I could spend all day telling them what they should do… Take your medication. Eat regularly and eat well. Surround yourself with love and positivity because there is nothing to be ashamed of. You are more than your diagnosis. You are strong and courageous. You have purpose, and the world is made better because you’re a part of it. The problem is, unless they believe it, those words are empty. It’s hard to give advice when both of you know in the end, the disease will win. How do you fight that? What do you say? I can’t force someone to take their medication. I can’t make sure they eat. I can’t give them a job, take their pain away, or instill in them a sense of belonging and hope.
I can only listen and pray.