Listening Heart

                     When I asked God for better hearing, he gave me someone to listen to.

Until our new septic system is finished, I’ve been making weekly visits to the laundromat. One afternoon, a former student at the school where I volunteer came in. I recognized him immediately. 

His long, somewhat scraggly hair hadn’t changed, nor his grunge-hippie styled clothing. He carried in baskets of blankets and clothes while his girlfriend quickly loaded several washers.

“Aren’t you from the school?” he asked me.

So, he had recognized me, even after all these years. 

We chatted about insignificant stuff, and then quite suddenly he said that he was sorry our mail had been stolen and some of our checks had been forged. 

Seeing that I wondered how he knew, he told me he’d been living with the perpetrator at the time. He moved out after that happened, and has been couch surfing since.

But as we talked, it became less about the crime and more about the reality of drugs ruining lives. 

Drugs had trapped him too—it’s a tough life, he said. The conversation ran deeper than laundromat conversations usually do.

But I left with a better understanding about the young man I once tutored. I could hear with less judgment and more compassion. Even though I’d had something stolen, so had he—drugs had stolen time from his life since we’d once shared a table at the school library.

Now he’s struggling to find his way to a better future. He’s trying, so perhaps with more love and less judgement, his loss will lead to a better place—which is a gain for us all.

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. James 1:19

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