Calico Rock, Arkansas. I’m here for my quarterly check-up.
It’s a hard thing. It’s a brave thing. A nurse will poke me with a needle.
I’m not good with needles.
It’s what I must do to keep up with cholesterol and blood pressure.
I look around. Sweats, jeans, and jump suits. This is a place for the tired, the poor, the broken. Exactly where I belong. The people here carry colds, flu, aching bones, sick children, high blood pressure. Those worrisome things.
The nurse comes to the door and calls a name. Everyone grows quiet and looks around to see who will rise.
This time, it’s the big man leaning forward to get his bearings before standing. All eyes are on him. No one says a word.
We watch as he sighs and slowly walks toward the open door.
As a spectator, sometimes that’s all you can do. Be still, watch, revere what is in front of you.
Especially if you are feeling broken and falling apart yourself or if you are carrying a six-year-old sick child like the woman sitting across from me.
Thank goodness Jesus is attracted to us when we are falling apart, busted, broken, sick.
I smile, thinking those are the parts Jesus probably wants most of all.
Those and the heart-shattered parts.
A pleasing sacrifice.
Anybody can shove pain into a cubbyhole and numb it up.
But what works? When I want help, real help, I tell the doctor everything, I hold nothing back. The same with God. He gets the whole enchilada.
I know God already knows the full story, but strangely, I don’t always know the whole story until my heart spills out of my mouth.
I look around the waiting room. I hear sniffles, see leaning, troubled faces.
The brave feel their mess-ups. They feel their brokenness.
Life, you know, has a way of breaking us.
But if I learned anything after 20 years of being a professional counselor, I learned that the process of facing brokenness has a way of healing us, too.
That relates. I fear my cholesterol is back up. I won’t do a thing about it if I am not in reality, if I don’t make myself come to the clinic and get it checked.
The opposite road is called denial. The most popular coping mechanism, but it does not work that well for most of us. Oh, it gets us by temporarily, but it can lead to some hopelessly knotted messes inside and out.
Been there, done that. Maybe that's the path I choose when I do not want to make changes.
I finally figured it out. I need to push myself to face facts, even when they don’t feel good. I need all the pieces of the puzzle in front of me, hiding nothing from myself.
As I walk back through the waiting room, I follow an older man who pauses with his walker to let a woman step in front of him and open the door to the outside.
Something about the way they each step reminds me of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. They’ve done this dance before.
Whether the patient or the caregiver, we can hand a glass to someone, smile, hug a child, pause, listen to what someone is saying, be quiet and wait.
We may be broken, but we can still help others where they are. It’s a choice.
Actually, it’s what all of us are called to do.
I don’t want to miss the calling.
P.S. You may reply below the photo.
Photo of a clinic waiting room by Pat Durmon, January 2018.