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The Power of a Listening Ear by Jim Banks

I want to start with the words of Theresa Harvard Johnson who penned the following;

One day as I sat in my ninth grade art class my favorite teacher, Sherry Jamison, sat down beside me. Her hand upon mine she asked, “Theresa, are you okay?”

The emptiness of my eyes met her question with raw honesty. “I don’t know Ms. J but can I read you this poem I wrote?” That was how I answered my friends. Let me share this poem. Why don’t you read this story I wrote. Beyond my trusted notebook, I rarely shared my heart. I was too afraid, too ashamed.

It was a huge step, reading that poem to Ms. Jamison.. a real leap of faith to trust her. As a result, she became a powerful exhorter in my life—someone who “could see” me. The seeds planted during that time hold strong roots in who I am today.

That poem marked the beginning of a deep mentoring relationship—in art and in life. I realize now that Ms. Jamison learned a lot about the real me that school year. She was the first adult to hear or read my private poetry and short stories, some of which revealed the effects of the physical, sexual, and emotional abuse that shaped my mind and numbed my emotions.

She was the first person to say to me, “Theresa, you have a brilliant mind and unlimited potential. You need to know that you can have a good life.”

I’d never considered my life would be any different than that of the people around me. But she encouraged me otherwise. She put her hand firmly on my shoulder and looked me squarely in the eyes. “Theresa, look at me.” I lifted my head from such a deep, deep place of shame. Look at me!” she said. “None of this is your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. What is wrong is what has been done to you.”

Overwhelming emotions coursed through me. In that moment, I wasn’t thinking about what had happened in the past or even where I would go from this point. I simply thought, “I’m not invisible anymore.” People could see me. I was so happy that someone cared. I had value.”  You can read the full post at www.writewhereithurts.org.

There are two major elements in Theresa’s healing process that are worthy of noting; the power of a listening ear and the grace of a wise response, coupled with the efficacy of the creativity of the written word to express pain.

Daniel 2:21c “… he (God) gives wisdom to the wise, and understanding to the discerning;”  (NIV)  In order for us to make real progress in life and in our creative expression, we must be vitally connected to those who are both wise and discerning; for it is the unhealed wounds of life that hinder both. This can only be found in the context of community. It is typically our pain that continues to keep us isolated from those who know what to do with the understanding that their discernment gives them.

It was Theresa’s good fortune to be able to use her as-yet undiscovered creative writing ability to launch her healing, in that it became the venue for fully expressing her pain to those who had the ability to begin to help her resolve it. So be sure to stay connected with those who care about you; look for a seasoned wise and discerning mentor; put your whole heart into your work, withholding nothing.



Jim and Pat Banks lead House of Healing Minstries – an international ministry focused on equipping churches, ministries and individuals to minister healing to the spirit, soul and body. Pat has a passion for teaching creative people how to operate out of their spirit and commune with the Holy Spirit in their creative process.
Jim is the author of The Effects of Trauma and How to Deal with It and the developer of a prayer tool called the Trauma Prayer, which has been ministered to hundreds of people with astounding results to virtually eliminate symptoms of trauma, with many experiencing instantaneous and permanent relief.