Counsel the Doubtful

10. A Moment for Mercy - Counsel the Doubtful

We live in times of deep and radical doubts. There are very few things we feel sure about, and if we do, we suspect there is something wrong. Deep doubts bring scepticism, and even cynicism and nihilism. As a result the figure of the professional counsellor assumes increasing importance in our society. This can easily make us forget how important is our own responsibility to counsel those in doubt.

We all know the pitfalls, for we resent when we are 'counselled' badly, whether from a position of moral superiority, or by people who refuse to listen to us because they are so sure they understand us and our doubts. Yet we also know how grateful we feel to those ready to listen to our doubts, without judging us but showing they care about us because they give us the time and the space to unravel the confusion we feel.

Counselling the doubtful is above all a ministry of generous listening to the other person. Very often what the other person needs is a listening ear more than a solution. It is a very concrete way of telling the other, 'I care!'  I am not trying to convert you, or to make you change your mind, for above all I would like to help you clarify your thoughts and perhaps consider the consequences and the alternatives.

Doubts are so often linked with our own self-image: am I good enough, are my friends real ones, am I lovable? These doubts keep us back, so all affirmation of our worth by the people we love and esteem is a real work of mercy.

What makes us good counsellors of the doubtful is admitting we too have our own doubts, we know what being tormented by doubts can mean! Be true to yourself, listen, show you care.

By Paul Pace, SJ 

Today's video is a beautiful song 'Oceans where feet may fail' by Hillsong United.

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