We visited a local dealership, requested to test drive one of the used vehicles.
My wife got behind the wheel, since the car will be hers, if we purchase it, I jumped in the back seat, and let the Sales Associate, a young man in his late twenties, get in the passenger seat.
Our new young friend has a familiar last name to me, having grown up in a small community.
I asked him from the back seat, “What is your father’s name?”
It was as though we rehearsed the lines before getting in the car.
He said, without even thinking, “I don’t know.”
I replied while tapping him on the arm, “That’s okay, I did not know my father either.”
We continued to talk through the test drive and I asked him more questions about his life.
I was listening.
Whether we purchase an automobile or not, I have a new friend.
Not thirty minutes later, my wife and I sat down at a local restaurant where they serve good southern food.
Our waitress, who appeared to be all of seventeen, was bubbly and conversational.
I made an initial comment, “Ma’am, my wife and I are in the middle of a disagreement, do you offer marital counseling?”
She responded, “No sir, but that is what I want to do with my life.”
I was listening.
At the end of our meal, I asked her where she intended to go to college.
I asked how she had decided to become a counselor and asked her which field of counseling you would like to enter.
She said that the librarian at her high school had spoken to her and how she, the librarian, had been abused as a child, and how she had found help, and it was because of this librarian that she wanted to pursue that profession.
My heart told me that was only part of the reason.
She went on to say that she wanted to help children release the pain that they had suffered due to abuse and to restore their life.
Again, it was though the next two lines had been rehearsed prior to us sitting down to eat.
I said, “You were abused as a child weren’t you? And that is why you want to pursue that career.”
She responded, “Yes sir, I was. And I do not want a child to go through what I went through, if I can help them.”
I encouraged her to pursue her dream and not let anything stop her from helping others.
Then we left.
In both instances, I was listening for the pain.
And I heard it.
I heard the sadness in not knowing even the name of one’s father.
I heard the brokenness from a life once innocent, now stained.
I heard their pain.
Listen for the pain in others.
And when you hear it, speak to it.
Speak to that person’s future that bright days are ahead.
Speak to that person’s purpose in life.
Speak to the heart of that man, that woman, that you also know what it feels like to suffer pain in life, and that your pain was not without a positive outcome.
I shared with a pastor today, “Most people in pain just need someone to listen.”
Listen for the pain.