An Exchange of Words

Here you will find stories, thoughts and ideas from The Exchange.

Just Listen

Recently, I rode the bus home to Seattle after playing a show at a local college. According to Google, the route I planned to take would go to the University of Washington in northeast Seattle, where I planned to transfer to another bus. But when my bus pulled up, it said “Downtown Seattle” instead of “UW.” This was the last bus of the night, so I got on it!

Thirty minutes later I was sitting on 3rd Avenue in Downtown Seattle, waiting for a transfer to come (fortunately, I knew another bus to get me home). I reflected on the event we had just played—I felt like I was going through the motions, standing there, talking to people, saying “thanks for coming” and sending them on their way. I was tired from a long week of classes. I felt empty and drained. I wondered if my heart was really in tune with God, if I had really shown the very Love we get on stage to sing about.

​Then something amazing happened—I got up to glance at the bus schedule. Several seconds later, a man came up behind me. I turned around to face him, and quickly estimated that he was homeless due to his rugged appearance and the two large bags he carried. He smiled and introduced himself as Mark. He said he was trying to get enough money to buy something to eat, and that even pennies would help. I responded with “Hi, I’m Tyler. Let me see…” I have a pocket in my backpack that I dump all my loose change into, so I cleaned that out and gave it to him. It was about a fistful.

Mark thanked me for the help, and we began to chat. When I mentioned I just came from a gig, his eyes lit up! He was a musician too. Mark told me about his old band, the songs they wrote, and how he wished they had played more gigs. He mentioned that the last few years had been very hard for a variety of reasons. My bus came. Mark said he had to go, so we shook hands and he thanked me for the help. I said “God bless you” as we parted, and he answered with “you too, Tyler.” Although our conversation was brief, I could sense that Mark was happy for more than just the change I gave him—he was happy that I treated him like he mattered.

I got on the bus, and it hit me. This man had just poured out his life to me, told me his story, and I may have been the first person all day that stopped to listen! This is the exact situation described in our song, Tell Me Your Story, which I had performed only hours before. I sat there, stunned. God had literally redirected my path so that I could listen to this man. On a night that I questioned if I was useful to God, He showed that He can still use my weakest moments for His glory.

Tyler Mays
The Exchange