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The Man Who Whipped Out His Pen.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Galatians 6:2

After meeting with the man that afternoon, a video feed played its repetitive loop in my head. I wondered just what was it that stirred my soul when I shared an issue of concern? Why had I felt so protected, loved?


I studied the internal video again, zoomed in. And then I knew.

It was that moment when he clutched the pen in his shirt pocket, clicked it, and began to write.

Here’s what happened…

I’d been walking…no, more like trudging… through a difficult circumstance, one that left me disillusioned, rattled. Feeling kinda helpless. The man invited me to share. So I did. And subsequently clinched my jaw in preparation for one of those forced empathy expressions that come from fraudulent piety. Then, I assumed, would come a quasi-well-meaning nod typically offered by a listener who poses as one who gives a rip when, in reality, they don’t. I’d even pictured a think-bubble over his head that read,

“If you’d done things differently, why….” 

Or, worse.

“I’m just so thankful I’m not dealing with that.” (Side note: not ever a good thing to say to a wounded soul. Like, not ever)

But the man’s expression was devoid of disdain. His steely, gray-blue eyes targeted mine with a sheen of seriousness, softened with what felt like unadulterated compassion. It wasn’t to elevate himself. And he had no obligation to me, really. Heck, I’d only met the man two months before.

He whipped out his pen to document the details of my concern because he genuinely cared. The pen helped him not forget. Pen grabbing was his default response to one in need and nothing short of a call to action.

The now ousted law enforcement strategy, ‘Surround, contain, and wait for SWAT’ was deemed ineffective following the Columbine High School shooting of April 20th, 1999. The man who whipped out his pen didn’t employ that tactic in my situation either. His was some sort of spiritual ‘rapid-deployment’ at its finest.

Simply put, the man willingly joined me on the field, engaged in the battle with his hand frozen to his pen.

“Then the men of Israel retreated, but he (Eleazar) stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword.” II Samuel 23:9-10

~When heartache or concerns are shared, what do others read in the think-bubble over my head?

~Will I only wear the face of caring, but offer no tangible evidence that I’ll remember by

day’s end?

~How will others know I care enough to remember and to carry their burden?

I’ve got pens a-plenty. Are they within reach?

It’s not likely I’ll go changing my wardrobe to assure each shirt has a pocket on the front. So not my style. But somehow the bereaved, confused, disillusioned should know with confidence that I’ve got their concerns locked away in my brain, duly documented. Not forgotten. And that my hand is frozen to the sword – and a pen – on their behalf.


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