I was in Duluth for a few days this past week visiting family and to kind of get away from all the decision making for our new house. Building a new home is stressful and being ill while doing it is sooo tough. My body felt like it was shutting down on me and I was very emotional … so I needed a little break and decided to go up there to spend some time with my amazing family!
One morning, I got up a little early to get coffee from one of my favorite shops up there. As I was turning into the parking lot, I see an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair struggling to go up a hill backwards. With no hesitation, I pulled over, got out of my car and walked towards him. I looked at his sweet wrinkly face and asked if I could help him get up the hill, and with a sense of relief in his eyes, he agreed. As I was pushing him up the hill I noticed him trying to help me by moving the wheels of the chair, I told him to sit back and relax and enjoy the beautiful fall trees. Here’s me, a 105 lb gal pushing at least a 180 lb man plus his wheelchair weight up a pretty steep hill. My heart was pounding hard and fast, my legs were weak and shaky, I really thought I was going to drop dead right there. It was a gorgeous day and people were out and about, big men painting outside of a bank right next to us, people running errands and not one single person offered to help!!
As I was panting and praying in my mind I won’t drop dead, the sweet man asked me what I was doing in town and I told him. He introduced himself to me, “my name is Chuck, what is yours?” “I am Aisha, sir” I said. He then proceeded to tell me story after story … it was obvious he was very eager to share these stories with someone! I could feel a sense of loneliness in his voice and it made me sad, so I made sure not to speak about myself, unless he asked, and let him do the majority of the talking! One of the stories he shared was about his health, he had been very ill for quite some time with numerous health issues and I could tell by the tone of his voice he was discouraged. He also mentioned he had potassium poisoning not too long ago, and I asked him how does someone get that and he said “I drank too much coffee” and we chuckled and I thought to myself “is this a sign I shouldn’t get any coffee this morning?!?” I did anyways haha!
I wheeled him all the way up to his Assisted Living and when we got to the front of the door, he clasped my hands, looked me in the eyes and said “Thank you for listening to me, I am so happy you came to visit your family today.” I told him it was great hearing his stories and a pleasure meeting him and I walked away with a very important lesson.
My illness consumes me and I tend to do the “Oh, poor me” and “Why me?” quite a bit. I tend to forget that there are others who are suffering just as much as I am or more or in a different way! I noticed when I am around friends or family, they ask me how I am doing and sometimes I go on and on about how awful I feel and I don’t take much time to ask about them and their lives, because they are healthy, working and doing things they love, what could possibly be wrong with their lives? But suffering comes in all different forms.
Speaking with Chuck for 10 minutes reminded me that I am not the only one suffering and hurting, and that silence is truly a gift from God. We live in a world where it is all about “me me me” … we want to talk about ourselves, our lives, what happened at work, what someone said to us, the promotion at work, how smart I am, how rich I am , bla bla bla …. but when it comes to us having to listen to someone else speak, we get annoyed or change the subject back to us.
Today, I challenge you to take some time out of your days and be silent and sincerely listen to your friend, your sibling, your grandma or a neighbor, and see how much your silence touches their soul!