“Strengthening Our Sisterhood by Listening and Trusting,” Tambuli, Nov. 1993, 25
“As sisters in Zion, we’ll all work together” (Hymns, 1985, number 309). This line from a Relief Society hymn reminds us that our sisterhood is strengthened by our individual relationships with each other. One way we can do this is by learning to listen to each other with both our minds and our hearts. Another is by trusting others and by being trustworthy. In these two ways, we can begin to enjoy the kind of unity exemplified by some of our sisters from the scriptures—Mary and Elisabeth, Ruth and Naomi.
First, we must listen to each other with open hearts and minds. Active listening enables us to take into our hearts what is said. If we are only waiting to tell what we know, then we are not listening. As we listen, it is sometimes helpful to rephrase what we have heard and to ask a few questions. This often helps the speaker to think through her own situation and make her own decisions. She may benefit more from our interest than if we tried to solve her problems for her.
One mother was puzzled by the unruly behavior of her young son, Nathan. As she struggled to turn his negative talk and actions to positive ones, she watched how other families directed their children. She also confided in a friend who knew how to listen. Her friend asked helpful questions, such as, “When Nathan comes home from school, what do you do?” As the mother described her daily response, she realized she was reinforcing Nathan’s negative behavior and that she needed to change her own attitudes and actions. She tried a different approach, and her son changed, too. Lives were blessed by the careful listening and questioning of a caring friend.
• How would you describe real listening? What has happened when you have tried it?
When we trust each other, we can express our own feelings, experiences, and expectations honestly. This allows others to express themselves openly, too.
But trust comes only when we keep confidences. The Apostle Paul warned against tellers of tales, “wandering about from house to house; … tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not” (1 Tim. 5:13).
When we respect the confidences granted us, our friends can speak of their inner feelings or reach out for help. Marie and Heather shared this kind of trust. Heather had four children and demanding home responsibilities. Marie was often prompted by the Spirit to call just when Heather needed to confide. Heather said, “I couldn’t hide my feelings from her question, ‘How are you doing?’ I’d cry and explain, and she would listen, and I’d feel better. I knew my words would go no further. I thank the Lord for Marie.”
With this kind of trust, we can be “knit together in unity and in love one towards another” (Mosiah 18:21).
How can you be more worthy of your sisters’ trust?
How have you felt when you have talked openly with a trusted friend?