He taught me to listen and to hear when he pleaded, “Please listen to me.”
The call came in about a third of the way into my shift, 2:20 AM. I reluctantly pushed the button to connect the call. It hurt to say, “Hi this is Lee, who’s 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.” I knew I should have stayed home. I should have called in sick. But then, I would have missed his call.
I had been traveling back and forth from the studio to the station kitchen. I had heated water in the coffee maker. I had poured hot water into my insulated mug, added a spoonful of honey, two spoonfuls of lemon juice, stirred the mix, and then sipped and held the warm liquid in the back of my throat before swallowing. It helped. It soothed my throat for 20 or 30 seconds. “Hi Angel, what can I do for you?”
There was a pause, a silence–which is a no-no in radio–before Angle spoke. “It’s over for me man.” I heard exasperation, desperation, and nearly zero enthusiasm in his (what I envisioned as a clenched jaw and tight-lipped) hoarse sounding whisper.
“What does that mean Angel? What are you saying?” I took another sip of my throat soothing concoction. And waited. The music was melodic, bouncing through the broadcast world. I kept my eye on the 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 blabber 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 tightened (even more), the soreness forgotten. Angel 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 determined and dead.
I panicked. 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!”
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 absolutely unprepared and inadequate to say anything persuasive to Angel, so that he would change his mind if he meant to end his life. 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. I heard the soft troubling sound of empty disconnect.
Angel had hung up.
I lost it. I cried. I put the station in automation . I shook uncontrollably. I collapsed into my studio chair. I balled like a baby. Over and over I heard Angel say, “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