I worked in the coffee industry for close to seven years.
During my time slinging espresso, it wasn’t unusual for people to open up and tell me seemingly every detail about their lives, from their kids to their jobs–the happiest of moments to the darkest. It didn’t really seem to matter where I worked, or who I came in contact with, people just seemed to open up. It was almost like someone had pinned a “Hi! You can tell me anything…” badge on my apron without me noticing.
Through the years, I’ve learned the art of striking up conversations with nearly anyone; but more importantly, I’ve learned to listen and seen how powerful it can be to simply notice the individual who seems to be lost in the crowd.
A little over a month ago, I met a friend of mine for coffee at a Starbucks in my favorite South Floridian beach town. After ordering my usual (an unsweetened iced coffee with 2%), I routinely made my way to the handoff bar to pick up my treat and to meet my friend. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a well dressed elderly man walking my direction. I turned to him and smiled.
As we both waited for our drinks (he had ordered a venti vanilla bean frappuccino, incase you were wondering…), he began telling me about his life in advertising and marketing. He worked many years in The Big Apple, climbing the corporate ladder and sacrificing much to land large profile accounts.
Bob, he later introduced himself as, looked like he had it all. He was well dressed, drove a nice car, had plenty of money to spare and wrote copy for a famous standup comedian. But, after spending more than a couple minutes listening, you could hear in his voice and see it in his eyes he deeply felt lacking.
Bob went on about his life. Slowly, his conversation shifted from work to his wife. “She is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” Bob trailed off with tears in his eyes. “If I could change anything, it’d be to change places with her. I’ve got all the money in the world and I can’t make her better.”
Bob’s wife suffers from Alzheimer’s. He watches her as she slowly slips away, forgetting who he is and the life they’ve built together. He feels helpless. “Chelsea, if you find someone you love, grab them. Hold on and never let go. They’re the things that really make life worth living.”
As Bob and I continued to talk, I couldn’t help but feel thankful.
Thankful for my Jesus and His beautiful reminder to slow down and to take the time to see others; thankful for the opportunity to reflect His character to those who are hurting and thankful for those He has placed in my life–these are the things that really make life worth living.
Since my coffee interaction last month, I have often found myself asking, “How many people like Bob–put together on the outside but falling apart in the inside, do I miss everyday?”
My prayer today is that I would learn to see others as Jesus does; slowing down to take time to add value to others and to reflect His sweet nature to those who are hurting. May I learn to live in the present, grateful for what I have and who I get to share life with.