I did not mean for so many days to pass without posting. Wow! I can say the time has been productive and not too dramatic. There are some intense moments of sharing and praying with ladies. Just when I think I said something brilliant, I move on and I stick my foot in my mouth. Ugh.
I learned a few years back that if a girl/woman is ready to trust you with her secrets, she is really giving you access to her feelings. There is a special key required, it is password protected and sensors are on full-alert. One wrong move and that privilege is revoked with deadly precision.
In the detention center teens would try to shock is ‘church ladies.’ They wanted to see us squirm or be repulsed by their confessions. I can think of two amazing girls that shared their sexual orientation. One girl was bubbly with a hint of her temper wanted any to love her. Meanwhile the other girl was hardcore, she was blunt, yet you could tell she, too, was seeking love. The reason these two stand out is because they were caught off guard by the lack of reaction they received. I can’t imagine how they came to expect complete rejection. The reality of rejection in the church angers me still.
The lack of response, however, is crucial to most genuine conversations about confessions. If you have earned the privilege to hear her secrets, please know she is preparing to sever that connection before the first word has been spoken! Be silent and still. There is no need to nod or grab the tissue box. It is hard enough to put the words together without you causing distractions.
Do not, I repeat DO NOT, look at her with pity! Pity is probably worse than rejection, honestly. Even though her story is probably horrific and emotional, save your reaction until later. She needs compassion and acceptance, whereas our nature is to ‘move past’ the uncomfortable.
There may be specific actions you can do to tangibly help after she is done sharing, do not share them. You are there to listen and comfort her, not ‘fix’ her. If something needs done, there will be time for that later. “I’m sorry that happened” or “That must have hard,” say “Thanks for sharing,” if necessary.
She will direct the conversation from there. Sometimes it’s her body language, other times she already has a plan of going forward. However it flows, just realize, she is still watching to see if you are acting different. Will you treat her ‘kid-gloves,’ ostracize her or betray her?
Please treat the secret as the gift it is, a precious pearl to be set in a safe place. And treat her as the gift she is, precious and treasured!