Sunday, February 04, 2007


“So?” I stared across the table, happily anticipating cheese biscuits and having decided on which salad to order, and waited for Friend to reply. When she didn’t, I asked, “Thoughts?”

She sat on my right at services this morning and I’d wondered what she thought, what she needed, what I might do to help her find it. I keep realizing it’s not up to me – has very, very little to do with me at all. But I talk to God and I talk to Friend. It seems if there’s something that needs to be said, I could offer a nudge from either party if given enough information. It’s not a completely unfamiliar position historically, though I've never found myself very good at it. But I’m careful and thoughtful and at what is likely my most loving and accepting when talking to people in conversations where I’ve actively asked God to listen in. To help me out. Offer some words or ideas or questions that might be right.

I was surprised when she asked if she could join me at church. I cried last night when trying to explain that to her in a conversation that included more tears from me than any outside my therapist’s office in recent memory.

“I didn’t ask for it.” I finally told her. “For you to want to come to church. I just asked Him to keep following you around. To love you and help you whether you asked or not.”

The recurring thought for me – the one that made me continue to look upward for answers instead of inward – is that I’m not such a good Christian. The joy in life, the loving, peaceful aura, the stability to handle all around me… Um, I don’t do that. Have that. I’m not that.

I have the capacity for tremendous amounts of love and happiness – I don’t always tap into it. I’m oblivious to some people in need and willfully ignore others when I don’t see a way to help. I rarely choose to suffer next to someone just to keep him company, though I certain could do it on nearly any day.

That morning, I spent some time praying for a man I’d noticed in the hallway of the hospital. He was lying supine on a gurney, family clustered around him, waiting to be called into one of the exam rooms as people passed by him in the hallway that leads to the rest of the hospital on the first floor. I saw him as I headed to a meeting on the south end of campus – he was squirming slightly in discomfort, trying to respond to the attempts at conversation his family members made. When I returned to head north about 30 minutes later, he was still. His forearm was resting over his eyes and all but a single woman remained by his side as the rest found seats in the hallway.

I said a prayer – felt the tug in my heart and knew it to be a call to God. Sympathy and fear and hope warred inside and I asked that He take care of them. Settle around the man and lessen the pain while he waited. Offer peace to the family whose faces had drawn tight with worry and impatience. Give the medical staff quick minds and gentle hands and good hearts as they worked to fix problems they hadn’t caused and may not understand.

My point is that I’m not incapable. Sometimes I see. I notice and I pray. But I walk through that hospital a good deal – I work on a medical campus, after all, and see my share of sick people. And even if I don’t come in contact with them, it’s no secret as to what happens in that tall structure with all the windows. I know why those people are waiting in the lobby. I’m aware – even as I try mightily to ignore it some days – of why that little boy is being pulled around in a wagon while he waits for ice cream in line ahead of me.

I read once that waiting can be a blessing. Those moments stuck in traffic or standing in line at a store can be spent praying. About anything. For the people located around you in your current snafu. For family and friends. For yourself or for the world at large. If you take those moments, talk to God, try to listen for what you should be doing next, then the time is a gift.

I don’t do that either. I despise waiting with a white-hot passion. My overall frustration with God is in waiting. If He’s going to make situations OK, why let us be so scared and worried for so long? If He’s going to give me someone to love, why not now? And if He’s not going to provide a man in my life, may I please stop wanting one so badly? I don’t use the downtime to gently reflect. To offer prayers. To stop and consider my motives and desires.

“Honestly!” I say with increasing volume if I’m alone and in my head if located within a crowd, “Just get out of my way! This is taking too long! The opposite of efficiency! Move, move, move!”

I'm vindictive and hateful sometimes. I succumbed to a depression that was deep and dark and just a touch ridiculous. I'm lazy more often than not.

I don’t know enough Bible verses, though I can sing Love is Like a Magic Penny for you if you’d like. I get distracted when I pray. I ignore God a shameful amount. I sin and I question and I have no idea what I’m doing sometimes. As far as friends to sit next to in church go? I’m painfully inadequate. I often do it wrong – this whole Christian thing.

“I can’t connect to it.” I offered of my own experience in church that morning. “I’m supposed to feel it in my chest – the emotion that tells me I’m experiencing church like I want to. And I don’t, really. I just can’t get to it right now for some reason. I don’t think I would have come to church had I not wanted to be sure you had the opportunity to come with me if you didn’t change your mind.”

I can, however, connect with Friend and with God when I talk about her. I’m grateful to be around – whatever she decides or feels or says. The truth is that it very well might help me more than anyone else. The thought toward what believing should mean in my life and my actions. So, thanks. To both of you.

Oh, and do let me know if I can help.

1 comment:

TitleTroubles said...

For the record, I still think you're wrong. And not at all inadequate. If you claimed to have all of the answers and completely get it all of the time, that would be inadequate. Sometimes the right response doesn't involve any words at all. And sometimes a few words are exactly enough. So, thanks to you, too. I am lucky to be able to call you friend.

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