Yesterday was another first for me. I had my first mammogram at 52 years old. I’ve been avoiding it, honestly. I have been really busy homeschooling, you know? I live an hour away from the breast centers that are not attached to hospitals (who wants to go there ever, but especially now with this flu epidemic). My doctors are all men, and I can’t stand going there for “female stuff.” I’m sure you understand, right? My list of excuses. And they are just that … excuses. But as I sat in that packed waiting room, I realized how very alone I was.
Why do we shut others out?
There I sat. In a waiting room full of other women. All there for the very same reason.
Yet nobody was talking.
As a matter of fact, they were doing everything in their power not to even make eye contact.
Maybe we were all feeling a little vulnerable. After all we were sitting in a waiting room at the West Cancer Center.
And I know it was scary. I was there with them for the very same reason.
But when we are in that place where we are feeling so awfully alone and vulnerable and raw, why do we grab things to avoid interacting with others?
I chose a different path yesterday.
I put my phone down and looked at this very scared beautiful redhead sitting in front of me and spoke.
I simply asked…
She was not okay.
She shared that she had breast cancer twenty years ago and that she was looking forward to celebrating twenty years of life without it.
And then this happened.
A mammogram with questionable spots.
She was sitting there in this packed waiting room literally living a personal hell.
The beautiful woman to her left was called, and they asked her to step into the office to speak. You could literally see everyone’s collective wince.
When she returned, instead of letting her sit there in silence, I again chose a different path… Again I asked “Are you okay?”
She shared they found something on her mammogram and wanted her to stay and get an ultrasound. But she looked at me and said something that still shocks me…
I didn’t feel calm enough that I ever suspected it would show. But apparently it did.
I was not that calm because I knew what my outcome was going to be… I was that calm because I knew the Lord would be there no matter what.
I was trusting in the Lord. My theme song for the last couple of years has been “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle.
And I was trusting.
But I think I was calm for another reason as well.
I was trying to build a bridge across the enormous canyon of silence…
Reaching out to a perfect stranger and investing time in her.
In her struggle.
Nothing really hard.
Or is it?
I asked a question that gave her the opportunity to open up.
And I took the time to listen.
By giving another person a chance to talk, to share her struggle, and listening… we are sending the message that that person is worth listening to.
We are called to lift each other up. To be a support system for one another. To bear each other’s burdens.
And we can’t do that if we don’t actually know their struggles and burdens.
I literally spent less than 10 minutes with these women. But they knew I was praying for them.
Because I told them I would.
And I did.
And will continue.
But we also laughed (at my expense) about our circumstances.
We were real.
But no longer alone.
One thing that really sets us apart from every other living creature is our ability to empathize.
Why do we let everything get in the way of being there for others?
We are all on this journey called life.
Every day, we are surrounded by strangers.
But each one of these strangers has a story.
Don’t be afraid to ask others if they are okay.
And then listen.God may have put you in this situation with this person in front of you because you are an answer to her prayer.
Be a blessing.
Let your words and actions bring life.
Especially in packed waiting rooms where we all feel lonely and vulnerable.
Have you ever been in a situation where a stranger made an unexpected impact in your world? If so, please share your story with us in the comments. Let’s be beacons of hope and light!