What happens when you listen...

This afternoon I took a leisurely lunch with my dear friend, Cheryl. We were celebrating her birthday mother’s day. Chatting and enjoying each other’s company as always. While exiting the restaurant Cheryl noticed a large SUV backing up dangerously close to another car, so she waved the driver down to warn him. A moment not-so different from those Liberty Mutual commercials.
At some point the SUV actually hits the car causing it to move. And like anyone would do, we’re left dumbfounded thinking is the dude going to leave a note. What if that was my car. But we continue on through the parking lot wrapping up our conversation and saying our goodbyes Occasionally looking back as a young man exits the vehicle and his father attempts to back out, but because there is a large moving truck parked behind them they cannot get out of the space.
As the older gentleman exits, he yells at us frustrated “is this your car – this is not your car, move on you (#!?%#) nosey white people - mind your own (#!?%#) business.” And Cheryl and I looked at each other shocked. Flabbergasted. We were just talking to each other not too concerned with what was happening. Cheryl actually stopped the young man from causing serious damage to the other car. We were being. Nice.
And I of course do what I always do. Cry. Because in spite of my tough faux brick exterior, I am incredibly tenderhearted. For real...I'd make a great filet mignon! All I could think is {this} is exactly what is wrong with the world today. I looked at Cheryl and just said at some point that man must have been really hurt by a white person...he just needs a hug. Just like when a “Christian” does something terrible to another person and that person’s opinion towards the church is forever changed.
And you know what happened...eventually, the guy walked up to us and thanked us. And I told him his white people comment upset me. I told him what I told Cheryl (minus the Christian comment). And he looked at me and said, “you know I do need a hug.” So I gave him a hug. A real hug. And we had a conversation. And we listened.
Now, what I didn’t say is that this was a black man. And we are the two whitest women you have ever seen. Probably pushing towards neon white. (And the color of our shell is only a big deal because this is the south.) What I didn’t way is that this was a thugged out, pants-on-the-ground black man. What I didn’t say is after the hug, he looked as us and said, “ya’ll must be church people.” And what I didn’t say is that Cheryl and I just smiled at one another and shook our heads no.
What I didn’t say is that I have had several “Christians” tell am not one.
We may not go to church, but church certainly finds us. Every day. In the way we treat one another. In the way we love. In the way we pray. God is not found in a brick & mortar building. He is found after an earthquake or a hurricane. He is found in the way we love. In the way we give. And the way we listen.
I wonder what would happen if we all stopped talking so much and just listened. Because the thing is those words he yelled were not about us, but his own pain surfacing. And today I just so happened to be the one listening vs. the one yelling. And maybe...just maybe the next time he sees a couple of white women he'll remember that we don't all clutch onto our purses for dear life when we share an elevator with a black man.

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