He taught me to listen and to hear when he said, “Please listen to me.”
His phone call came in about a third of the way into my shift, 2:20 AM. I reluctantly pushed the button to connect him. It hurt for me to say, “Hi this is Lee, who is this?” It hurt because when I looked into the radio station’s bathroom mirror, opened my mouth wide, and tilted my head at just the right angle, I could see that my throat was pinkish-red. I’m not well.
“This is Angel.”
(Oh goody) I knew I should have stayed home. I should have called in sick. But then … I would have missed his call.
All morning I’d been traveling back and forth from the station broadcast studio to the station’s kitchen. I’d been heating water in the coffee maker. I’d been pouring that hot water into my insulated mug, adding a spoonful of honey, two spoonfuls of lemon juice, shaking the mix, sipping the concoction, and holding the medium hot liquid in the back of my throat before swallowing. It helped. It soothed my throat for 20 to 30 seconds.
In a slightly raspy voice I answered, “Hi Angel, what can I do for you?”
There was a pause of silence before Angel spoke. “It’s over for me man.”
I heard exasperation, desperation, and zero enthusiasm in his dry throat whisper.
“What does that mean Angel? What are you saying?” I took another sip of my throat soothing brew. And waited. The music bounced through the broadcast world. I kept my eye on the music countdown clock. 1:43, 1:42, 1:41 … before I had to do something–air a spot, talk, or switch to another song.
“I’m tired of this. I’m done.”
My head began to tingle. I tried to listen closer. I tried to make out what Angel might mean. “Okay, you mean it hasn’t been a good day?” I intended to tell Angel about my miserable sore throat, and blabbed on about how it was a lousy day for me too, and how I should be in bed, but he cut me off with …
“I got a gun, man. It’s over for me.”
My throat ached, but the soreness was forgotten. Angel had my total focus. Scared and not knowing what to say I asked, “Angel, what’s going on?”
He repeated, “It’s over for me man.” His voice sounded empty yet, determined.
My confidence began to unravel. I wondered, Is this guy going to commit suicide? Has he called me so I’d be his witness in death? “Angel, tell me what’s happened? Why do you have a gun?”
“Oh man, no one cares!”
I realized rage, resentment, anger, disgust, and ‘please listen to me’ were all mixed into the sounds he spoke. If he intended to kill himself (while I listened), what could I do to dissuade him? I felt thoroughly unprepared and completely inadequate to say anything persuasive to Angel. I asked, “Angel why did you call me?, I’m a radio announcer, I’m not …”
“Is this a Christian radio station?”
“Are you a Christian?”
“Good, then you’re connected to God, right?”
I glanced up at the monitor. :04, :03, :02. I reached out and touched the screen and sent another song into the airwaves. “I believe in God, Angel. I …
“I need you to … please listen to me…I need you to pray for me.”
Of course I could pray, but I said, “Angel, let me give you the Crisis-Line phone number. Do you have a pencil and paper?”
“I have a gun. It’s over for me man.”
Oh Lord, what do I say? What do I do? “Okay Angel, what do you want me to pray?”
“Pray for my kids. Pray for my parents. Pray for my soul.”
I prayed. “Lord Jesus I don’t know who Angel is, but you do. I don’t know why Angel called me, but you do. I don’t know what’s going on in Angel’s life that has brought him to this moment, but you do. I ask you to …” I heard a click. I stopped praying and held my breath. I strained to listen. A moment later I heard the soft troubling sound of disconnect.
Angel hung up.
I lost it. I cried. I put the station into automation . I shook uncontrollably. I collapsed into my studio chair. I balled like a baby, uncontrolably. Over and over I heard Angel plead, “Please listen to me, please listen to me, please listen to me.”
Angel’s call shocked me. Angel’s call ripped at my heart.
Since his call, I have learned to listen, to hear what people are saying. I’m not saying I’m good at it. I’m saying that I now understand that people, any person, is looking at me expectantly and asking, “Will you listen to me? Will you take time to hear me?”
Listening and hearing are gifts that, until Angel, I left unopened.
Before Angel I had only my agenda. I thought about me. I talked about me. I wouldn’t think to ask about you.
I didn’t know the reward and joy of affirming someone’s faith. I didn’t know how listening and hearing offered hope. I didn’t know how listening and hearing could bridge and encourage a connection with Jesus.
Angel happened to me early in my Christian radio career.
Three days after his initial call, Angel called and thanked me for praying. At first, I wanted to kill him for the anxiety and stress he caused me.
But then I realized, God used Angel to teach me how to listen and how to hear.
Open your gift of listening and hearing, because someone needs your ear and God’s love. Can you hear them? “Please listen to me.”
Thanks for listening to Lee’s Nite Radio.
Song: Casting Crowns: Does Anybody Hear Her