Tuesday, August 23, 2011

the waiting room

"Bob? Right this way please."
The nurse lead an elderly gentleman with a cane to his examination room.
There were seven people left in the waiting room.
"I told you Steve, I was in the meeting. Jefferson was very clear about what his expectations are for the next quarter. We are going to need every last sale in our territory. I'm working on fine-tuning our plan for the next two weeks right now," a woman in business attire with a bluetooth and open laptop continued her work day in a chair near the door. She was very distressed earlier when there wasn't an available outlet for her laptop.
A seat away from the business woman sat a construction worker with his arm in a sling. He had been injured recently on the job in a machine accident. Workman's comp paid his way. He was in for a follow-up. He was watching an Oprah re-run in between paragraphs about the NFL Lockout in a month-old Sports Illustrated.
Across from them sat a couple flirting. The man talked about his recent outdoor adventure; he had been hiking and canoeing for ten days near Lake Superior. He was wearing a black and red plaid shirt and had well-manicured stubble. The woman was blinking repeatedly and leaning in towards him with her arms folded under her bust-line. She occasionally interrupted his story with oohs and ahhs, and expressions of disbelief.
Close to the television sat a mother and her young son. Her son's nose was bright red and he sniffled in between sobs.
"Why don't you play with the Legos, Alex?" Alex shook his head and buried it in his mother's lap. Across from her sat a man with a bottle of hand sanitizer.
"I bet he has an ear infection. Little kids always have ear infections. I used to get them all the time." He squirted his hand with sanitizer and wrung his hands together several times.
"Do you worry about getting sick with something just by coming to the doctor?" the sanitizer man asked Alex's mother.
"No, not too much," she said. "Usually we are already sick, so I don't really think about it."
"Well, I'm not usually sick when I come. I just come to get checked on for my diabetes and asthma. I worry that I'm going to get the flu or shingles. I'm so afraid of shingles."
"Did you get chicken pox when you were little?" asked Alex's mother.
"Yes, it was terrible."
"Well, you don't have to worry then. It's unlikely that you'll get shingles."
"But you can get them. It's not a 100% guarantee. My cousin had both. You have a 20% chance."
"Well," said Alex's mom, "I guess you could get it, but I don't think you should worry."
Sanitizer man squirted his hands again and rubbed them together vigorously.
"You can never be too safe ma'am. Uh, what is your name?"
"Nice to meet you Cindy. My name is Gary. I'd shake your hand, but, you know."
Cindy nodded.
"How old is your son?"
"Alex, how old are you?" asked Cindy, encouragingly holding up three fingers. Alex buried his face deeper in his mother's lap, then turned his head to peer at Gary with one eye.
"Three years old, huh? I don't remember being three. I remember being four. I got sick and was in the hospital overnight. My mom stayed on the chair next to me and my dad brought me a teddy bear. I got stuck 8 times before they found a vein for my IV. I hated needles ever since then."
Cindy winced and looked down at Alex, hoping he just had an ear infection. "Do you use needles for your diabetes. I mean, to check your blood sugar?"
"Yes," said Gary, "I hate it."
"Alex?" called the nurse, "Mrs. Roberts?" Cindy started to get up.
"Well, it was very nice meeting you Cindy," said Gary. "Good luck with the ear infection Alex." Gary saluted the little boy and started to watch Oprah.
Gary pulled a notecard out of his back pocket. On the notecard he had scribbled, "back mole," and "insomnia." He looked over the card and rehearsed in his head what he would say to his doctor.
"Well Doctor, there is this mole on my back. I have been measuring it for the last ten years and I think it may have grown. Can we check and see if it is cancerous? Also, I have hardly been able to sleep lately and I worry that I am suffering from insomnia. Is there anything we can do to remedy these issues?"
Gary folded up his card and placed it back in his pocket and turned his attention back to the television. A new segment was starting on Oprah. She was going to interview a doctor on early dementia. They were going to talk about cases of dementia before the age of 50. Gary breathed in deeply. He had forgotten his sister's birthday last week. He pulled out his card and scribbled "dementia" under "insomnia."
The business woman and her bluetooth were called into the doctor's office. She huffed past the nurse and muttered something about time being money. The waiting room was much quieter now. Only the couple's flirting conversation could be heard interrupted at regular intervals by the construction worker's snoring.
Gary tried to relax and thought about buying a belated birthday card for his sister at the drugstore on the way home. He would probably need to pick up a prescription anyway.
The door opened again. The construction worker was called in and Alex and Cindy walked out. Cindy finished signing out and paying at the front and walked over to Gary.
"You haven't been called in yet Gary? You were here before we got here." Cindy looked concerned.
"Oh, it's okay. I come here so often they figure I can wait a little longer I guess. How's Alex?"
"You were right, Alex had an ear infection. The doctor gave us a prescription and said it should clear up pretty soon. How did you know?"
"I've seen it before, experienced it myself." Gary shifted uncomfortably. Alex had walked up to him, put his hand on his knee and was motioning towards the Legos in the corner.
"Well, I'm very impressed," said Cindy smiling. "We'll see you later Gary."
"Bye Cindy, Bye Alex. I hope you feel better soon."

Friday, August 19, 2011


I get my hopes up, too fast.

Let's back track a little bit. I love change. Yes, change is difficult. Having moved so many times growing up, I always missed what I had left behind, but I got this insatiable desire for adventure in return. Like Pa Ingalls, "My wandering foot gets to itching," and I'm ready to pack up and move on.

This thirst for adventure gets twisted up in my sense of purpose. Then I feel lost.

"Where I am going?"

"What is the point?"

"Is this it?"

I think about all the things I hope for, the people I want to minister to, the places I'd like to go, the books I want to write, all the things I want to accomplish...I take a look around me and I wonder if those things I hope for so desperately will ever happen. Because I just can't see it right now.

I worry that my dreams are not valid, not important to God. I worry that they don't really line up with His purposes.

I worry that if I do get to fulfill those dreams, I'll get to the other side and say, "That's it? All these years for this?"

I've already seen in my 24 years a pattern with the purposes of God. He may not give you exactly what you want, in the timing you want, or the way you want it. But it is always perfect, and better than what you wanted in the first place. So why worry right?

Easy to put on paper (or screen, I should say), much more difficult to put into emotional practice.

When the future husband, child, job, college, ministry... whatever it is you are hoping for consumes your thoughts constantly, it's not that easy to say "Lord Your will be done." We want to say, "Lord my will be done, please give it Your blessing."

Today, it dawned on me that I have been hoping for good things the wrong way. I hope to have children someday, hope to have a ministry to immigrants and the disabled, hope to live in a different context, hope to be a published author, etc. Are these things wrong and sinful? Not really. But the way I hope for them is.

I have been placing my hope in these things, rather than just hoping they would happen. How do I differentiate between the two? Like this:

When I place my hope in these things, every setback to their fulfillment leaves me hopeless. I feel empty, purposeless, and depressed. I question, "Why am I here right now?" and give myself an early morning pity party before work. I can't see God moving in my circumstances because I have placed all my hope in different circumstances.

I haven't placed my hope in God.

"For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:24-25

My hope doesn't rest in the unseen. I'm "hoping" in the things of this world, thinking that a change will make me feel happier and more fulfilled. That I will be more in line with God's purposes if I'm doing the things that I am passion about. These things are good, but I cannot place my hope in them... I cannot trust in them.

Even if I was in a dark prison with no food, waiting for my execution I could place my hope in God, in the unseen. I could know that His purposes, though inscrutable at times, were good and I would be with Him for eternity.

Though my circumstances stay the same, though my dreams continue to be dreams, and though all desires may not be fulfilled, I can place my hope in the God who created me and know that He is sovereign in this place. The place that I am today, whether that is the same tomorrow or fades away.

I pray that God would change my heart, that it would always long for the things He longs for. That I would dream about Him and desire His ways.

Instead of looking for the next big change, maybe God Himself is my adventure?

My hope is in You, Your will be done.