Like a newly formed geyser, life altering conversations can spring up out of nowhere. You may find yourself in the midst of a one on one meeting or surrounded by a group of people. Maybe you came to shoot the breeze or, perhaps, you are on the hunt for some much needed wisdom. Whatever the case may be, these conversations hit you like a ton of bricks. They open up the world and show you a new way of viewing things. They may offer an epiphany or just the right amount of encouragement.
In my life, I have been privileged to be on the receiving end of quite a few of these conversations. More times than I count, those talks were had with one person; Cassie Cole.
Cassie and I have known each other for almost 15 years. We don’t talk often, maybe once or twice a year. Sometimes it is on the phone. Sometimes it is via text. If I am lucky, it is face to face. She is a Republican. I am a Democrat. She is Catholic. I am agnostic. We are both dedicated to servant leadership. We are passionate, intellectually curious, loyal, and possess a deep, abiding love for our friends and family. We both claim Frederick, OK as home. Our conversations work, because we are interested in learning and growing. Here, I think Cassie can provide some lessons for us all.
Cassie does something both amazing and simple when you speak with her; she listens, really listens. She actively listens to the words coming out of your mouth. She does her best to never interrupt. She provides proper pause before speaking. For some of us, myself included, these skills are near impossible. We are often more concerned with how we appear. We stumble all over ourselves to say something funny or intelligent. We are too concerned with winning the day with our argument or opinion. When we do this, we miss out on an opportunity to learn and grow. We avoid a chance to have our worldview changed. The exchange of wisdom passes us by without notice.
Cassie also does something pretty profound (something we could all learn to do better), she delays judgment. Make no mistake, she may disagree with every fiber of her being with what you are saying, yet she still listens. She always allows me to make my point and express myself. Then, calmly, she expresses herself. With the precision of a surgeon, she makes valid point after valid point. As she does, I learn and I grow. I experience a different way of looking at the world. As I hear her talk, I know I am being changed.
She is also one of the few friends that I have who gives wisdom freely and without the expectation of something in return. The best example of this power that I have happened during my first Christmas after losing Lucas. We both happened to be in Frederick seeing family. Soon, we were together again sharing a drink at Sonic and later talking late into the night at her parent’s house. Without me having to tell her so, she understood the complexity of the moment and the emotions inside me. She allowed me to talk, sit with my thoughts, and breathe a sigh of relief when needed. Then she did what she does best. She gave her most gracious gift of wisdom. Her words centered me and brought me back to the things for which I should be thankful. She did this never expecting me to be able to return the favor, but she should know, if she ever needs me, I’ll be there.
Besides being one of the best listeners and conversationalists that I know, she also happens to be one of my favorite human beings in the world. For years, I have had the pleasure of admiring her both up close and from afar. Time and time again she has provided life lessons that I keep with me to this day. I decided to write this post for two reasons. First, I think Cassie provides a terrific example of how we should conduct ourselves in the presence of others. Secondly, I think we should all do a better job of letting people know how much they matter to us. With that said, Cassie, thank you.
Be good to each other,