by Kenneth Justice
~Yesterday at coffee a young woman sat down next to me and had an obnoxiously loud phone conversation that I did my best to ignore. After she finished the call it was clear that she was upset over something because she repeatedly kept making one long “SIGH” after another….
To be honest, I was trying to pretend that I couldn’t hear her loud “SIGHING” because among other reasons I was in the middle of trying to read an interesting blog post that a pastor had written about me in which he was refuting one of my articles.
After 6 or 7 minutes of her loud “SIGHING” though I couldn’t take it anymore so I closed up my I-Pad and struck up a conversation with her, “So it sounds like your phone call didn’t go well” I said
“You don’t know the half of it!” the stranger said, “I was in a car accident last week and this guy rear ended me totally crushing the rear of my car…I’ve never been in an accident before and this whole last week has been overwhelming…”
It turns out that she was living in New York for the past 6 years because of college and work…but recently had to move back home with her parents due to personal problems which we will omit from the story…..
We talked for a half hour or so until her sister arrived to take her to work…..and to be honest, I was very uninterested in the conversation. I had been up since early in the morning yesterday and had hoped to have a simple coffee and some time to myself…..unfortunately my 45 minute lunch break was entirely monopolized by the young woman and her troubles.
But for that young woman…..she really needed to let off some steam. I’ve been in a couple car accidents in the past and I know how stressful the experience can be; having to deal with car insurance companies, deductibles, and other whatnot can really get to you…..
I didn’t offer her any great nuggets of wisdom, I merely listened to her and said, “Yea, I’ve been rear ended myself and I know how much of a hassle it can all be“; I empathized with her….because that is all she was looking for me to do; she just wanted someone to listen to her complain.
Did I really need to spend that lunch break all-by-myself; No….. I get up early in the morning every day and always have 2-3 hours to myself without fail…..so its not like I couldn’t spare a little bit of time listening to that young woman’s troubles. To be honest….I didn’t really want to listen to her; I could tell that whatever conversation we had would be all about her and that she wasn’t looking for any back-and-forth communication. It’s not like I wake up every morning hoping that I can spend half my day listening to strangers talk…..but sometimes life isn’t about what I want.
So much of our lives remind me of that situation yesterday; we do things not because we have to….but because its a loving thing to do;
—-) Parents don’t always feel like spending time with their children but they do so because that is what good parents do
—-) Teachers don’t always feel like listening to their students….but sometimes listening is what builds the blocks to more effective teaching…sometimes a student needs to be listened to more than they need to be talked at….
Sometimes we simply have to be there for someone; we don’t have to say anything, we don’t have to share any valuable wisdom or life experience….we simply have to be there.
When I was younger I was taught a misguided view of Jesus; he was portrayed to me as some great preacher; as a dude who walked around and talked at people everywhere he went. So when I was a twenty-something, I believed it was my responsibility to ‘be like Jesus’ and talk at people; and for many years I was nothing more than a Christian a** hole.……
It wasn’t until my late twenties that I began to see that what I had been taught about Jesus wasn’t the whole story; the reason people gave him their ears….was because of the countless hours he spent listening to them.
You see, the misguided Christian culture I was raised in believes that it is the Pastor’s job to first and foremost preach at people….and this then is taught to the laity; ‘go out into the world and preach at people the good news’ is what they say.
But, when I went back to stories of Jesus as I became older I began to see an entirely different dude than I had been taught about as a youth;
—-) There he is listening and loving a woman who is sleeping around more than Paris Hilton
—-) There he is ministering to a woman with a menstrual problem
—-) There he is listening to the petty bickering of his close friends
—-) There he is hanging out at parties where people are getting wasted
—-) There he is touching the sick, the leprous, and the lame
Jesus was called the good shepherd….and lets be honest; shepherds are first-and-foremost NOT preachers; but rather they are caretakers….they look after the sheep.
So did I preach at the young woman who sat down with me yesterday? Nope. In fact, I rarely ever talk ‘at’ people anymore…..its not my style. I don’t want to be nothing more than another Christian a*$ hole…there are already enough of them out there.
Instead of condemning Muslims, atheists, Hindus, and everyone else who is not a Christian….I would much rather interact with them having positive dialogue…..I’d rather reach out and love others by being there for them to the best of my ability……even though admittedly; its not always ‘what I want to do’…but sometimes its not about what we ‘want to do’….its about what we must do…its about doing whats right….
For now the right thing to do is for me to order another coffee,