Yesterday, I was out running errands while Morgan was at field hockey practice. I just got a new car, and I wanted to organize the storage space in the front seat, so I ran to my favorite home organization store – the Dollar Tree. If you’ve never done home organization shopping at the Dollar Tree, then you are missing out. Every room of my house has the perfect containers, all purchased for a dollar each! Anyway, I was standing in the back of the store, weighing my options and trying to decide what would work best, when an older man stopped nearby to look at something.
“Hmm, sugar free chocolate. I wonder if it’s any good,” he said to himself.
Glancing over, I saw the display of Baker’s Chocolate that had caught his attention. I winced.
“Only for baking,” I told him. “You definitely do not want to eat it. It’s very bitter.”
He looked at the box for a moment, and then I saw understanding dawn.
“I guess the name should have given that away. I’m diabetic, and the words ‘no sugar’ jumped out at me. I sure miss eating chocolate.”
Before I knew it, this man launched into a story about his younger sister who had eaten a whole box of ExLax as a child. It was much more information than I needed to know about this stranger and his family, but I smiled and listened. When he finished his story, I nodded, picked up the plastic containers I’d been eyeing, and began to turn away. But I didn’t get far.
“I have three kids,” this man proceeded to tell me. Before I could say that I, too, have three children, or rather, before I could escape and run down the aisle, he began telling me about his children and his grandchildren. Twenty minutes and several stories later, I smiled, told him I enjoyed talking to him, and wished him a nice day. The entire time he talked, my mind was screaming, “Don’t you get that I have things to do?” But my heart was saying, this man needs to talk.
Perhaps his wife has a medical issue and can’t hold a conversation with him. Perhaps he recently retired and is at loose ends in his life. Perhaps he is just so filled with joy at this stage of his life that he wants the world to know it. Whatever the reason, he chose me to spend close to a half hour regaling with stories. In the end, I paid for my stuff, ran to the grocery store, and still had time to sit in the school parking lot and organize my car. What could have been seen as lost time in my otherwise very busy day, ended up being just a few minutes that I had to spare.
It’s crazy how busy we all are. My days seem to roll by at a constant speed with little time to take a break. If you had told me yesterday morning that I’d spend part of my day listening to a stranger tell me how he feels when his grandson lays his head on his lap and looks up and says, “Grandpa, I love you,” I would have told you no way, I had no time for that. But, as it turned out, I had plenty of time. In fact, I had more than enough time. It’s amazing how sometimes, when we’re open to it, God allows us to make time for little things like listening to a stranger. And that makes me wonder.
If I had been on my phone, if I was one of those people who walks around with earbuds in my ears all day, or if I had simply ignored this man’s comment to himself about the chocolate, the conversation never would have taken place. Would my day have changed? Not at all. But would his? I’ll never know. But God does. He knew that I was meant to be there at that time. He knew that this man needed someone to listen. He knew that my day would turn out just fine if I spared a few minutes for a stranger. He knew that I’d still be thinking about it today. Maybe that man is still thinking about it, too. And maybe it was just what he needed.
What I was writing about one year ago this week: America, Our Ship is Sinking.
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy followed up her success with, Island of Miracles, which has outsold all of her other books worldwide and ranked as high 600 on Amazon. Her next children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now on pre-sale. Amy’s novel, Summer’s Squall, is on pre-sale and will be released on December 1, 2017.