I'm at the laundromat last weekend reading my Bible while washing my clothes when this older guy walks up and clears his throat.
Admittedly, I knew he wanted to talk, but I had ten minutes to go, and I'm focused on finishing reading the Bible cover-to-cover, so I don't look up and keep reading.
He clears his throat again, and I don't respond, as he does it a third and fourth time. I stay focused. But, then he says, “You're reading the Bible” and I finally look up and acknowledge him, telling him that I am reading cover-to-cover.
He starts talking to me, letting me know he's attended seminary, and that he suggests I am reading the wrong Bible. I let that slide off, and something tells me just to listen to him without sharing my two cents (something I find extremely hard to keep from doing).
He continues talking about people who are in the Bible, and then he asks if I am married. I tell him no, and that I am divorced three times over.
Then he proceeds to tell me he is divorced several times over and begins sharing those stories with me. I want to get back to reading the Bible, but I have a voice saying to listen to this man.
He tells me about his first marriage, having a daughter that he thought was his own, and later learns that she wasn't.
His story bothers me because that same scenario happened to me with my first wife, and then he continues with several more situations that go hand and hand with my life experiences.
I realized as he was telling me his stories that he needed someone to listen to him, that he is hurting inside. I never took away from his story by telling him that he mirrored me, but instead, I let him get it out, while I listened.
His cab finally arrived, and we shook hands, and I wished him well, as I thought how selfish I was, not wanting to hear at first.
I ask myself, was our conversation more for him or was it more for me? Maybe it was a conversation for the both of us.
I would have never stopped to listen to this stranger as I did on Saturday, had it not been for the Bible.
And, what a blessing it is to be there for somebody you don't know, listening when they need to talk to someone. What a great day!