I have had more in person conversations with people outside of my family in the last week and a half than I have had over the last sixteen months.
I truly believe that ministry is based on relationships, and I am doing my level best at practicing it. People love to share. People are hungry to tell you their story, even if it is the happy version of that story, because sometimes the telling of the story is also the crafting of it. But still. Listening matters.
And I’m hearing the stories.
I had a woman stop me in the grocery store and share with me for twenty minutes. I get this all the time. I am a sponge or magnet or glue for stories. I’m the heat signature for the tracking device.
Its become so common that I get surprised when stories don’t overflow. When my norm is barely prompted outpouring of the deepest past and part of someone, when I encounter someone who is not eager to spill, I forget the prompts. What was easy becomes monumentally difficult.
I’m remembering to stay curious.
I’m reminding myself to stay curious.
And in the midst of staying curious, to also allow and receive nuance, to hear the story behind the statement, to not fall into the trap of assuming that a single decision point is the defining part of the whole person in front of me.
If only because I don’t want that done to me.
I’m in this strange space of having five years of paid employment and ten years since I finished school… ten years of conversations deeply embedded in church without the performative or compensated part of it.
And I wonder how that changes how I listen. I hope that the ten years have changed me. Rather, I know they have… I could go and read what I was writing right as I finished and see what changes have been wrought in my perspective.
It makes me wonder what the next ten years will bring. What stories I have yet to hear. What heartbreak I have yet to sustain. What transition I have yet to navigate.
How many more conversations I get to have.
I am looking forward to listening and learning.