If sadness were a contagious disease, I would have caught it from Michael Martin.
He was asleep in a downtown Nashville McDonalds when I woke him up to ask if he needed a sleeping bag or tent. He cried as he told me that he has horrible anxiety and that his medication was stolen. He then said that the person he was sharing a campsite with stole all that he had.
Leo F. Buscaglia, a former professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Southern California once stated, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
I listened as he poured out words he had been holding back. Some of the sentences thrown together by the soon to be 40 year old were that he misses his mother whom he once lived with. Evidently, she sold her home and is now living with a family member.
After handing him a tent and a sleeping bag, Michael shook my hand about three times. He was able to release the words that he thought no one heard.
I have noticed it sometimes rubs people the wrong way when I say that it is not our job to judge the stories we may hear from others. It is not for us to decide their twisted reality for that is how they may have interpreted their past – despite what other family members or friends witnessed. It is not for us to decide if the truth is behind their lies or if their lies lead to their truth.
American novelist Ernest Hemingway said, “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”
If you feel the urge to help someone, all you have to do is listen and not speak a word. Simply listen and it can change a life. If you decide to argue what they tell you – it will get you nowhere.