I give out my number pretty freely at The Dale. I never guarantee that I will answer my phone, and almost always keep it on silent overnight, but I know that sometimes people just need to speak things aloud and that leaving a voicemail will do the job.
I’ve come to expect a certain type of message from certain people. If “Paul” calls, it’s almost always to let me know how he’s doing, and to tell me that he’s praying for me and the rest of us at The Dale. He will encourage me in my role, and remind me to trust in God.
If “Maureen” calls, it’s usually to confirm that we’re meeting at a certain place at a certain time; since The Dale is a nomadic church she likes to check to make sure she has the right spot.
If “Trevor” calls, he’s usually had a bit to drink and will leave a few messages in a row. These voicemails are usually a combination of his own renditions of popular songs, philosophical/theological ramblings, as well as a bizarre mixture of over-the-top compliments and patronizing insults. I don’t take either of these things personally, as I know that they come from his own history of pain.
So, when I saw that I had a voicemail from Trevor yesterday, I was expecting more of the same. I should know by now that assumptions are very often incorrect; this message from Trevor was clear and compassionate. He thought that he saw me walking down Queen Street with a friend the other day, and was sure that I was crying. He wanted to check in and see if someone I loved had died, and if so, who? And if so, he was there to listen with an empathetic ear. He has lost many friends, he told me, and so knows the pain that he thought I must be feeling.
While I have been known to walk down the street crying, the person he saw the other day wasn’t me. But I was humbled and grateful that this friend took the time to check in with me and offer a listening ear. No compliments, no insults. Just empathy.
As per usual, God chose to show up in a moment I least expected, knocking down my assumptions and opening up my heart anew.