Let a person know you are willing to listen. Don't ask questions, just listen. Chances are that you will hear the deepest parts of a person's soul. Let them talk, and I have found that it generally develops into telling what is written on their hearts.
I met a man named Gordon this week, and he taught me a few things. Eighty-two (or so) years of learning has made him a very wise man. He doesn't have a college education. He doesn't have his family to take care of him. He doesn't even have a very good memory. But as he talked and I listened, I saw signs of heartache and great joy. It wasn't hard to feel with him the passion that he had for the life he had lived. His testimony sat on the surface, and I knew he loved his Heavenly Father, and was grateful for the experiences life had dealt him.
We don't all understand the concept of kill or be killed. We don't all lose our husbands in mining accidents. We don't all experience the heartache of addiction. We don't all wonder where our next meal is going to come from. We don't all experience betrayal of a family member. We don't all know discrimination because of our race. We don't all get labeled as "disabled."
We all go through difficult trials. That we have in common. Our lives are all shaped by our individual experience, and sometimes there is overlap from person to person. There will be occasions were we encounter brothers and sisters who are enduring trials similar to our own. If we keep our experiences to ourselves how will we ever be able to reach out to them, and encourage them that they will make it through.
Sitting in the temple yesterday I read with a friend D&C 122:7 which says," all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." I shared with him that I felt positive that our experiences were not only for our good, but for the good of those around us. Countless times in my life have I been given a trial that turned out to be more of an opportunity to reach out to someone else. I believe that the potential given to us through our trials can only be fully reached when we lend our understanding to someone else. The lessons we learn in what may seem like the gall of bitterness, are not always only for ourselves.
We are guarded people. We're all afraid of letting people in, of opening our hearts up wide enough to touch another's. Vulnerability can be one of the most powerful tools in helping someone realize they are not as alone as they felt. While no two experiences are exactly the same, we undoubtedly can help remove the sting by sharing ours.
So what battles have you fought, which ones are you fighting, and who needs to know that you are on the battlefield with them?