It Only Takes One Question
We had just sat down at a table in the back of the room. My husband and I sat close together in the room full of strangers. As others mingled about, we quietly observed. An attractive, petite woman chose a seat beside me. I turned to greet her and began asking a series of questions. Just a few really. The third question, one whose phrasing I no longer remember, is the one that granted her freedom to open the floodgate.
Her posture straightened as she began, “I ended up in jail. I was a meth addict. I had tried to quit the drugs, but it never worked. I lost everything. I was going to die. It would take something radical for me to change, and I knew it. Something radical did happen, I was arrested, and it saved my life. I'm clean and I have been clean ever since. Jail saved my life.”
I was struck by her honesty, moved by her willingness to share her story. I wondered what she would have revealed had I not asked the question.
Every person we meet has a story. Stories of joy and laughter, stories of trial and heartache. The stories are there, waiting to be told, waiting to be heard, waiting for permission to be shared.
It is not just in the asking, but also in the waiting that stories come. Simply asking may show concern but sitting quietly while a response is formed shows genuine desire to hear what is spoken.
In a world of social media, texts, and statuses limited to 140 characters, we are in need of connecting to one another, eyeball to eyeball. With distractions removed, technology silenced, and a question asked, stories will be shared.
We learn and grow because of our own stories. We learn and grow from hearing another's story. We are a people in need of hearing and being heard.
Stop. Slow down. Turn and greet the person next to you. Ask a few questions. Wait for their response.