Just Listen

I recently found myself in that most despised of places: the cell phone store. No, don’t ask me which one, I won’t tell you. But why should it matter? In the end we all feel the same no matter what logo is on the building. If you’ve ever had to deal with problems with your own cell phone, congratulations, you’re an adult. You also know what I’m talking about. I had questions that had so far gone unanswered by online and over-the-phone consultations.

So, there I was – I’m not writing to complain about my cell phone struggles, you already know about those – but there I was, waiting my turn to talk to the service technician when I was approached by a gentleman.

He posed a serious, mysterious question. When you become chronologically advanced, you get this question an unfair number of times. But, in this instance, yes, it was probably fair for him to approach and say, “You probably don’t remember me, do ya?”

Truth is, I’d gone to church with this guy. I’d had a heart-to-heart or two with him in our men’s ministry. But that was 20 years ago, and let’s face it, 20 years changes a person (which must be why 2020 seemed to change everyone exponentially). If you look exactly like you did 20 years ago, don’t tell anyone where the fountain of youth is. We don’t want it swamped by tourists.

I didn’t recognize him, I must confess. But as he filled in the details of his life, things that make him recognizable, like the loss of his wife, a child who’d died in an accident, the successful running of his own business, I connected the dots.

But for him, it wasn’t about being recognized. It was about being heard. He needed someone to listen to him. And I would be that person.

Now, listen closely, folks. Listening means listening. It doesn’t mean responding; it doesn’t mean formulating a response in between those moments when you get to talk (when someone else is talking, by the way); It doesn’t mean offering encouragement or wisdom, or even scripture. It means being quiet, peaceful, and engaged. Just listen.

I figured I had nothing else to do, while waiting for the service tech to handle my situation so I just listened and nodded. It was probably the smartest thing I did all day.

Then he smiled and thanked me for listening to him. On his way out the door, he twice referred to me by an incorrect name. I just smiled and said it was my pleasure, even though he didn’t remember who I was. It didn’t matter.

What mattered was allowing a widower to talk about how he was really feeling. To somebody who would just shut up and listen.

If you’ve ever tuned into Joy620 between 6 and 8 AM, you know that I am not good at shutting up. And if you’re in the same boat, let me share some good news: the Holy Spirit will do it for you. Gotta give credit to the residing divinity that guides my soul. He told me to be quiet, so that I might serve someone else.

You see, listening is about serving. You may never see that person again, but in that moment, you, as a vessel of the Holy Spirit, gave them exactly what they needed. The gentleman in the phone store didn’t need to know my name. He just needed to know that I cared. That for that moment while I waited on someone to help me, I wanted to help him.

My turn came, and the technician informed me that she couldn’t help me (don’t get me started). But in the end, God knew that would happen. I wasn’t there to get help. I was there to give and serve. God had designed it that way.

So, try it this week. See how the Holy Spirit might use you in His ministry to advance the Kingdom, not by doing, but by being. Just by listening.

Your friend,

“What’s his face”

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