Unexpected Grace: To Linger and Listen

Jun 28, 2011

Today’s unexpected grace was, well … unexpected.

For the past week I begin my day with a whispered prayer as I’m running around like a crazed mom of three:

God, who do you want me to love today? Show me the person who needs an extra dose of grace, and help me not to miss it!

But by 9:30 tonight, however, I still hadn’t felt any particular stirring toward a person or situation. Midnight loomed. Ugh! I felt like a contestant on Jeopardy with that stupid song playing in my head.

After spending several hours at a bookstore with my writing friends, I was ready to head home. It’d been a long day, driving kids a million places, trying to get work done with the normal distractions of a summer break, preparing for a meeting, replying to emails. I’d spent all my mental and physical energy throughout the day. All I wanted to do was go home and crawl into bed with a good book.

But the conversations at the bookstore lingered. As the leader, I needed to remain. In spite of my exhaustion, I didn’t mind. These writers are my dearest of friends.

One woman approached from the back, stooped over with age, hair bearing the silver hue of a lifetime of years. To be honest, I wanted to quickly duck out the front door. I was tired, weary of conversation, ready to sleep and end the craziness of the day. But she moved quicker than I could, and before I knew it, we stood face to face.

For several minutes she talked while I listened. I offered polite nods here and there, trying to be respectful, cordial. I’m sure my eyes glazed over at some point, not because I didn’t care but a result of weariness. Somewhere in the midst of another story about one of her children, I felt more than heard these words:

She’s your unexpected grace today. I want you to linger. And listen. Don’t miss what she’s saying in your rush to get home.

Could it really be that simple?

Yesterday it was. I didn’t want to linger. I didn’t have the energy to listen. But grace asked me to do both.

Because Grace has done both for me.

“The LORD hears the needy and does not despise his captive people.” ~ Psalm 69:33


  1. Dave Moore

    This really struck deep within me. A year ago I lost my precious mom after a 9 month battle with lung cancer. I was her main caregiver. It was very hard. Looking back I wish that I had lingered more myself. I did spend nearly every day with her but I wonder how many times she might have needed me to listen more. Your story helps me realize that I need to be a better listener and I especially need to linger at the Masters feet more every day. Thank you!

    • Michele

      Dave, I’m so sorry about the loss of your mom. Cancer is a beast, and it robs all of us of so much. I’m so glad she had you with her, taking care of her. My guess is you lingered far more than you remember. You were THERE. You chose to be present in her suffering and care for her in ways many of us would not have the strength or courage to do. Yes, we all need to be better listeners. I don’t know anyone who has perfected that art! But don’t discount what you DID do. We all can be inspired by your example.


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