The traffic light turned red just as the woman got close to it. She had about two minutes to get to her destination and there was nothing she could do to get there in time.
She inched forward, watching the other direction and hoping she could time the light becoming green. Her foot stepped on the gas and she was off as soon as the light changed. Just as she did, a large vehicle ran the red light and they collided.
The woman was sedated and awoke several hours later to a hospital bed and suddenly no deadlines or appointments to keep. Even as she thought about what her injuries might mean, she found herself strangely at peace to have no commitments and no pressure. It had been a hard winter, and her energy reserves were depleted. She slept long and found her strength returning, even as her pain levels began to rise.
There was a flurry of activity around her as coworkers, family, and friends arranged to take over all her obligations, and within a short time all was addressed. She wondered at how effortlessly they all made it seem, so matter of fact and straightforward. Each of her tasks had seemed so monumental and overwhelming recently, leaving her sleepless at times as well as critical and short with those around her. She wondered how her obligations could have been so stressful if they were so easily taken care of.
Visitors came and went over the course of the week, concerned and happy just to hold her hand or talk with her. It was astonishing to realize that she was valued and loved by so many. Lately her attitude was so caustic and critical that she had been chastised by more than just one person. Those remarks had stung, but she was quick to justify and excuse away her part. They didn’t understand the pressure she was under. Their lives seemed so manageable and ordered in comparison.
Looking into the face of people who she had just been so offended by, she saw that they had been right. She was out of control, and she was making excuses. Given quiet time to pause and reflect, she saw more truth. She still found time for her favorite past times, but she rarely found time to benefit anyone else. The reality of her own fault began to fall into place and she saw herself more clearly than she liked. A stressed out, unhappy individual with little to show for all her activity, because almost all of it was self-imposed and self-serving.
A quiet calm came over her as she released the blame she had held onto but had not admitted. Her sister had not been kind to her, but she could not release herself for all the blame. There was no reason to continue holding a grudge, for she had no claim to innocence. She dialed the number for her sister and waited. The fact that she was in the hospital had not been acknowledged by her sister. She had pretended it didn’t matter to anyone that asked.
Not any longer, for she wanted nothing more than to hear her voice, to tell her what was going on and hear her calmly say that everything would be alright. As her sister answered, she found herself quite emotional. It had been much too long since she had heard that familiar voice. “It me.” She managed the words and paused as she tried to stifle the emotion. There was no sound on the other end. “I’m calling because I miss you.” They interrupted each other as both tried to speak and were soon laughing after several attempts were unsuccessful. It was so good to have a sister.
—————Thoughts that motivated this story—————
In this story I explored a pause to hear.
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
In Matthew 3:1 out of nowhere this mysterious character John appears preaching in the wilderness. I find myself asking “Why not stand in a crowded marketplace or before the temple if you really want to be heard?” In thinking about this I came to the conclusion that the people had to be taken out of their comfort zone, and in fact be seeking and curious in order to hear the words John had to tell them.
Sometimes I have to go outside of my routine and self-focus to understand what God has been trying to tell me. That can be at church, it can be in a quiet room alone, or it can be on the side of the road with just God. The important part is separating myself, seeking to know what He wants. My son is so focused on what he is doing and often I can’t get his attention until I drag him away from whatever it is that distracts him. Not that I’m any better, Mommy is so busy focused on driving or a task I’m working on too. When he tries to ask me a question, I don’t give him much thought, even as he repeats himself. Were he able (like I am) to drag me away physically, I would more than likely listen.
I have to thank my little sister for her being the bigger person so many times for me. Quick to forgive, always thoughtful, and so happy to hear my voice. I cannot imagine my life without her. The blessing of time is so precious, and with my schedule I relate all too well to the woman in this story. Lord, help me to remember that all my actions are not as important as how much I love. Help me to pause and give time, and not just when it is convenient.