Last week I was asked out to breakfast by a friend of mine who is in deep grief. His wife of over 62 years passed away in September. Naturally I accepted his invitation. He is lost right now. Just lost… I was on a mission last week. I went to breakfast that morning with the intent of listening carefully and expressing compassion. Something very odd happened that morning.
I left the little café where a lot of us enjoy breakfast in the morning feeling like I got a whole lot more out of the encounter than he did. I was the one on a mission that morning. Our roles were seemingly shuffled before the eggs and bacon was consumed. What happened that morning?
He shared his heart and I listened. He talked about his deceased wife like she was the most honored woman that ever walked on the face of the earth. I found those reflections especially meaningful, because I know how he treated her before her death. I learned some things about marriage that I needed to learn that morning. He gave me enough to think about on that subject about for weeks. I started asking myself: what will happen to me if I get to hang out with this man more often?
I was with him at a meeting Tuesday night. I asked him if he might be available for breakfast Thursday morning. I will readily admit that I was not on a mission this time. My motives were mixed. I wanted to reach out and encourage him. But I also yearned for conversation with a man that has substance and depth along with lots of life experience. We got together this morning. His deceased wife still held a prominent place in the conversation. But we also discussed ancient church history and various theological models. Intellectually he can keep up with the big boys and girls.
Before we left this morning he apologized for dominating the conversation. And he told me next week he wanted to hear about my struggles and concerns. It sounds like if there are plans for a meeting next week that we are going to make this a regular gathering. I could not be more thrilled. Now I am asking: what will happen to me over the long haul if I continue to hang out with him? And the answer is: there is no telling! But it is certain to be good. Isn’t interesting that our “missions” in life often get reversed?