I’m all about ‘teachable moments,’ those special moments in time when we are given the opportunity to alter life. I miss probably 95% of them so when I realize I have walked away from one of the 5% that I am aware of, I lament.
I was late in making the water bill payment and drove to the facility on Saturday morning to put the check in the night deposit box. As I was looking around the front door for anything that might resemble a deposit box, a white SUV drove past the side of the building to a covered drive-through. As I walked around the side of the building, I noticed that the driver of the SUV had his window down.
“Is that the night deposit box?” I asked.
“Yes, it is,” he replied. He opened his door a bit and said, “I can’t reach it.”
I hurried into the space between us and offered, “Here, let me help. You told me where to find it so I’ll put both of our checks in.”
“Thank you,” he said, handing me his envelope. As I slipped both beneath the protective cover, he added, “I’ve had a stroke and I’ve lost a lot of strength in my left arm.”
“Oh, I’m sorry…”
“…but I’m getting better,” he quickly added.
Seeing an opportunity, I prayed, “Thank you, Jesus.”
“You bet. I’ll tell you, this stroke really saved my life.”
“Bless you, dear.” I touched his arm; “You have a good Thanksgiving.”
But I knew as soon as I turned to go that I had blown it. That man had a story to tell and I cut him off.
Everyone has a story to tell.
Some stories are outrageous tales of abuse, neglect, and unbelievable mistreatment…or they start out that way. Some stories don’t sound like stories at all, but rather as general complaints about politics, family members, illness, or the weather. However, if given the opportunity, the complaints can morph into a sharing of the story teller’s circumstances and experiences…often as an explanation of why the story teller thinks the way he does.
If handled properly (and if trust is built) the story teller may then be empowered to shift his position just a bit, less toward rancor and rage, and more toward patience and forgiveness…even toward a willingness to admit his own failings. In, “What do people do, who don’t have Jesus?” I describe a day of meeting people, listening to their stories, and..in time…getting to the crux of life.
The gentleman at the water department wanted to share his story of how suffering a stroke had saved his life. It is probably a wonderful story; his stroke probably forced a change of life priorities or a re-connection to God. By gifting him with the opportunity to tell his story, I could have strengthened the power of the transforming event in his life; I could have encouraged his willingness to share his story and life with more people; I could even have been blessing, myself, with wisdom from the Holy Spirit.
There are enumerable, but only positive, reasons for listening to another person’s story. Truth be told, I would also be obeying Christ in doing so because several times a day He whispers to me, “Let her talk.”