Thought for the Day: Yesterday I had lunch with someone whose story is very different than my story. Our life experiences, the things we have encountered in life, are really quite dissimilar. Except that we are both pastors… so some common ground. As he shared a number of his life experiences, I had to quiet myself and just listen. Trying to find places where there was commonality would have been a mistake as I just needed to hear his story – not judge it or dismiss it or gloss over it. It was different and I needed to respect that. We are always going to see the world through our own lenses, so one of the great challenges is to humble oneself and allow others to speak to their lived experience. The story of the Gerasene man possessed by a demon is a central story in Luke’s Gospel. But imagine those who heard this excited man tell his story about being made whole by Jesus. How did they process what they heard? I picture a few folks dismissing the man’s comments because they had never personally been possessed by a demon. There were others who felt threatened as if it were some sort of competition to see who had known the most difficult life. And still a handful of people who wanted to shutdown the conversation all together because hearing about his problems made them feel uncomfortable. When we listen, we are saying to others, “Your story and life experience have value,” and especially for someone like this formerly possessed man who had probably never felt heard.
Prayer: If I can be a gift by simply listening, then lead me to that place. O Lord of Heaven and Earth, provide me the courage to listen and learn without assuming that someone else’s very different story is somehow wrong or inferior or a threat to who I am. I make this request in the name of Jesus who provided space for so many to share their stories. Amen.
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Rev. Bruce Frogge