Do you know where I can find a bar in this town?
The young man was wandering around my music store, having pulled down a guitar or two from the rack to whack at the strings a few seconds on each one.
He was agitated—angry, even.
We had talked about him being new in town and had even discussed his new profession in the construction business. He was almost smiling as he described his boss and how his new job was working out.
Then a shadow descended over his face as he told of being fired from the previous job which first drew him here, only a few weeks ago.
He showed me his arm and the evidence of a badly healed broken wrist bone, all the while ranting about the inequity of losing a job because of a previous injury. The job required repetitive motion and strength in his forearms and the company was not willing to risk the liability, so they let him go.
Anger spilling from his core, he asked me about the bar.
I told him where one could be found and waited for him to respond. I was pretty sure the bar wouldn’t help his state of mind, but it didn’t seem that my saying so would either. I simply waited.
Acknowledging the directions I had given him, he seemed to be searching for his next words. I expected to hear more vitriol aimed at the company that had left him high and dry, looking for a new job.
“I just ended my marriage. That’s why I’m headed to the bar.”
My mind raced, trying to change gears and catch up with the new direction this conversation was taking. As it raced, a completely new thought came to me.
The internal conversation took me a minute, but I realized he was explaining this new twist in his biography, so I tried to concentrate on his words.
“Yeah. Just a few minutes ago. I walked out and told her to be gone when I get home.”
Four months, they made it before calling it quits. It’s not my story, so I’m not going to divulge any more of the details, but as he talked, my mind was asking questions.
Not of him. Of myself.
Okay. So you’re no bartender. But, you could say something about God. How about quoting some scripture?
Don’t you have any wisdom to share? Anything?
Sometimes, words won’t come. I just stood there, listening.
It’s a good thing.
When I try to fix things for others, I usually just make a mess. Most of the time, folks in his position simply need a listening ear. Somehow, in the quietness, God can speak into hearts what we can never communicate on our own.
The young man, calm now, looked at me and smiled.
“Thanks for listening. I’m going to go see if I can make some new friends, but I’ll be back.”
He reached out his hand and gripped mine. “My name’s Josh. Maybe you could pray for me or something.”
With that, he was gone.
I stood looking at the door. How did he know I would pray for him? Is that what bartenders do?
No, I guess not.
It is what I do.
It is what I will do for him.
Some days are like that. People don’t need your wisdom, don’t need your great store of knowledge, don’t even need your amazing skills, to make things better.
They just need you. To stand there.
Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.
(Margaret Wheatley ~ American writer/consultant)
So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness.
(James 5:16 ~ NET Bible)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.