Listening Feels Like I’m Doing Nothing

0 comments Posted on November 19, 2021

by Kathy Collard Miller

Maryanne called and began crying almost as soon as she said her first words. “I got mad at Tyler again. Why can’t I control myself? I said I’d never get out of control again.”

I listened and bit my tongue. I wanted to give her my “five steps to constructively deal with anger” speech but knew it would fall on deaf ears. I knew I would give her advice eventually but only by dealing out little pieces of information as she could absorb it. Because after years of informally counseling hurting mothers and other hurting women, I’d learned the value of…listening.

There is such power in just…listening. For those of us who think we know all the answers and believe giving a three point outline of instruction will instantaneously make someone better, just…listening seems so ineffective. It’s so…un-“doing.” We aren’t “doing” anything when we just listen. We feel ineffectual and impotent.

But listening is one of the most powerful healing gifts we can give to a hurting person. Yes, our goal should be to lead them to the place of change through trusting God more, but usually that comes after we hear their heart. When they’ve expressed their pain and recognized their sin, their hearts are ready to hear and respond.

In a subtle way that’s what Jesus was doing when He asked people questions when He already knew the answers. Jesus asked the man who had waited many long years to be healed beside the pool of Bethesda, “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6) The man responded, Jesus listened and then helped.

Do you know the power of listening even though it feels like doing…nothing?

Kathy Collard Miller is amazed at God’s work in and through her. She is the author of over 55 books including God’s Intriguing Questions: 60 New Testament Devotions Revealing Jesus’s Nature. She has spoken in 9 foreign countries and over 30 US States. She is a wife, mom, and grandma—and being a grandma is the best. She lives with her husband and co-author, Larry, in Boise, Idaho. Visit her at


Submit Comment