I was super irritated waiting in my doctor’s waiting room yesterday afternoon. In fact, I had even arrived late knowing that the doctor would be running late, and still ended up waiting for over 40 minutes. Mind you, I was waiting in uncomfortable waiting room chairs with stitches across my spine. So, when a random, obviously worn out, woman sat down next to me, I did absolutely everything possible to avoid contact. “Is that a dress?” she immediately asked. I honestly wasn’t quite sure if she was talking to me. She asked again, this time reaching towards me.
“Oh, yes! Yes, it is,” I said.
“It’s so gorgeous. It is the most beautiful blue. It looks amazing on you. You know, not every color can be worn by everyone. I can’t wear beige. I had to wear this beautiful beige dress for my cousin’s wedding and it looked so awful on me. I couldn’t even look at pictures of it. I mean, you look at a picture and can’t deny how awful it looks. I looked at pictures recently and realized how different I look now, you know?” She finally paused, and I prayed that our dress-rant was over so I could go back to being pissed off about having to wait so long. “My father just died. I can see the stress in my face now. I just don’t look the same anymore. He was my everything.”
In ten seconds I felt like the worst person ever. Here I am pursuing ministry, and I had the audacity to want this woman who was seeking comfort to just be quiet. Completely unacceptable.
The next ten minutes were filled with the life story of this incredible stranger. Without any hesitation, she poured her entire life story out to me. She was struggling ever since she lost her father, and just didn’t know how life could go on. She had a partner of 12 years, and was married once before. She did not have children, but did have an abortion during her first marriage because she was doing too much cocaine to support the life of a child. I watched the stress disappear from her face, as she found a solace in a stranger’s ear.
She held my hands, and begged me to realize how fortunate I was to still be in my twenties. She begged to learn from her own life story, and to understand how much life I have ahead of me.
Then she was called back for her appointment and I wanted so badly for her to stay and continue telling me her stories.
As I was left alone in the waiting room, I thought about what she said and how pertinent it was to decisions I am currently making in my life right now. I had flashbacks of my own moments pouring my life story out to strangers in waiting rooms when I was stuck in an abusive marriage and facing a major health issue. I remembered significant moments with those strangers in which they inspired me to take the steps I needed to take in order to get out, and made me feel less alone, if even for a moment.
For the past 24 hours, I have been thinking about how many times we are stuck in waiting rooms, and focus only on our impatience, rather than the reason we are waiting. We’ve been discussing life’s seasons at church recently, and I think a lot of seasons are seasons we are waiting → waiting for that new job, that spouse, that sign of what we should be doing with our life. We disregard these seasons because nothing exciting is happening, and we feel stagnant, when, in fact, most of the grunt work is being done so we can experience those exciting seasons on the horizon.
Here are some things I have learned during my time in the waiting room of life:
Perspective Is Everything
Something that definitely came out of yesterday’s literal waiting room experience is that our problems are small in comparison to others’. Within two minutes of talking with the woman I met I realized stitches on your spine just aren’t that big of a deal, and waiting for 40 minutes in a waiting room is nothing compared to waiting the rest of your life to see your father again.
Prayer Is Powerful
A lot of times I’ve been left in a waiting room it has been because I needed to pray more about what step to take next in my life. I had a very significant ‘waiting room’ period in Wisconsin after my divorce that was necessary for me to recover and heal. During this time I returned to regular meditation, yoga and prayer and reflected on what the next big step needed to be for my life.
God Needs Time To Prep You
Sometime’s we’re not ready for that exciting season, and God needs us to wait while he does some internal work on us. I’ve seen this at work a lot in relationships in my life. Someone has been removed because we just aren’t on the same page, but we reconnect later on and become best friends. We both needed time to grow and figure some things out before we could form a solid relationship.
You Are Not Alone
Waiting rooms are some of the most vulnerable places. You often times find yourself in one not knowing what is going to happen next, and completely alone. Beautiful stories and relationships are born out of this vulnerability, as strangers yearn to connect with anyone who is experiencing the same thing as them in their aloneness. Embrace the opportunity to meet new people during your wait time that are facing similar things in life. It is incredible what you can do for each other.
God Knows What’s Best
Sometimes waiting rooms are used to slow us down and show us that God knows what we need better than we do. God uses the time to show us the pros and cons of something we are set on having in our life. I was set on finding a research position when I moved back to Miami, but could find absolutely nothing like the job I had in NYC. During my waiting time I took a job as a hostess (more on that here → 5 Things I Learned As A Hostess) and picked up some traits that eventually landed me a job in social media which is now a major passion of mine. God knew what he was doing.
One thing is for sure, there’s a reason a woman and I randomly met in a waiting room yesterday. I left our conversation with a fresh perspective and thirst for making the best decisions for my future, and I saw her relax and her smile brighten as she was able to share her story with someone. We needed each other in that moment.
Next time you are impatiently waiting, remember there’s a reason God needs you to wait in that waiting room.
– Marji J. Sherman
I thoroughly enjoyed your waiting room story!! My tv pastor says “dont worry and dont hurry.” As I sit in many waiting rooms the convention is going off in my head thinking about myself and what I need to do. Im gonna be more aware now of the person next to me that might have struggles worse than me and just needs a few minutes of comfort. Thanks for story.
Marji J. Sherman
Thanks for sharing, Carolyn! I love the quote from your pastor 🙂
I loved this article it’s so true I had a waiting room experience just last week went in for stomach pain which scared me to death because I just got through breast cancer ,chemo & radiation less then three months ago my daughter took me but in my fear I wouldn’t let her go back with me thinking the worse they took my vitals I was going to live but while waiting for a room there where two little old ladies (sisters) waiting too one asked if I was ok I said stomach pains she said her too ,she said what side I said right she said her left side were a match we laughed and talked a bit then they came to put her in her room I was left waiting but more at ease the other sister said we will check on you before we go.I laughed and said sure thinking ok who does that I was in a room waiting for my test and I saw her looking up and down the halls but I also had a pain pill so maybe I was not so coherent when I opened my eyes my daughter was in the room and they were releasing me.I walk out and there are my two little angels “they quickly ask my diagnosis and my daughter looks at me and says how do you know them ? I simply said I meet them in a waiting area she said only you mom only you .
Marji J. Sherman
Aww, I love this, Lee! Thanks for sharing your waiting room story. It’s amazing how connected you can feel to the people you meet there. I’m glad you had your two angels (three, including your daughter!) there will you that day. – M.
Thank you for this beautiful, very important post!
Marji J. Sherman
Thank you for taking the time to read it 🙂