After meeting a friend for a visit and settling into a conversation, you might ask, “What’s on your mind?” It could be a general comment just to find out what the two of you might like to talk about, or it could be a slightly probing question to find out why your friend appears to have a frown on her face. Perhaps there is some issue she is dealing with. Perhaps as Mary Oliver writes in a poem, we can ask the question “as though it’s some kind of weight.” (Four Sonnets)
And it might be a weight that needs to be lifted or at least shared to lighten the load. Simon of Cyrene did this in a literal sense by helping Jesus carry his cross up Calvary’s hill. (Luke 23:26) But for us the help may be to lend a willing ear to listen as the weight of the problem is unraveled. A loving, unconditional acceptance of the one telling the story can be the beginning of healing as the problem is told. No instant cure or band-aid is expected – nor is appropriate. The healing most likely will not come from your advice but from within the one releasing the burden.
The solution to the problem revealed from the question, “What’s on your mind?” needs to come from the one carrying the issue. Even if you think you know the solution, your job is to lighten the weight of the problem, to let your friend see it more clearly, and in the discernment to be with your friend as she puts it to rest.