“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen...” (James 1:19a, NIV 2011).
For some reason, my fellow opened up today. For some reason, she began to tell me her story. She had come to the United States at the age of 12 with little spoken English. A few months after she arrived, her young mother was diagnosed with cancer and died within six months. She has since excelled, graduated from Stanford and is now a fellow in Oncology. She told me, “People said I should not go into oncology because of my loss, but that’s the very reason I am here.”
I asked her, “How do you handle the terribly ill patients when you think of your mother?”
“I do fine,” she said. “I don’t break down emotionally or anything. I remember one patient this year who was dying from cancer and I looked into her eyes and saw my mother’s eyes.”
“That’s a wonderful gift your mother left you. As long as you can see the one you loved so much in each of your patients, you will do very well.”
Everyone we see has stories. Think of your own.
One of the most important things we can do in our relationships with others is to help them feel free to tell their stories. That’s when we begin to get to the heart of the matter. That’s when souls come up for air and let us see who they are. That’s when hearts say, “I trust you. You can touch my life.”
That’s when we can most likely begin to tell them the profound truth of our own lives, the truth of our humanity saved by Jesus the Christ.
How do we get to these moments of storytelling? For me this day, I just decided to take the time, to stop all else and deliberately listen. I learned from that encounter. I learned that stopping is a choice. I learned that listening is a choice. I learned that the blessing to me from these choices today were far greater than the blessing of finishing work on time. I learned that my witness for Jesus depends on such choices.
Just as you listen to me, let me choose to deliberately stop what I am doing and listen to those who have a story to share, so that your story might also be heard.