Posted by: ritagone | January 6, 2010

A Lady Without Her Eye Hanging By a Thread

Last weekend I went to a local Urgent Care, the first time I’ve done that in about 20 years.  I suspected a sinus infection and wanted to get on antibiotics as quickly as possible.  It was early Saturday morning, and the small, confined waiting room was filled with…sick people.  I sat there for over an hour wondering how you could be in such close proximity to all these sick people and not get sicker.  Peoples’ names were called and disappeared behind the door to the examining rooms, one by one, with me figuring out when – according to who was left – my turn would come.

Then a woman came into the room and up to the receptionist’s counter, a woman probably in her ‘70’s with a baggie with an ice cube in it held over her right eye.  She spoke in a rather loud voice so that everyone sitting quietly heard: “I walked into the corner of a kitchen cabinet door and think I may have damaged my eye.”  Now I’m sitting there thinking that if she pulls the ice pack away, we’re going to see an eyeball hanging by a thread, something bloody and disgusting and unwanted, and I’m going to have to run out of the room to vomit.

The woman took a seat and proceeded to use her cell phone to call someone – and you know what that’s like in a small confined space: we all heard the conversation word for word.  No one else was using their cell phones, obedient to the very large sign over the receptionist’s desk that read: “Please do not use your cell phone in this office.”  Oh well, I thought, she’s old and doesn’t know better.  (Always seems to be the excuse for people, albeit a poor one.)

Then the door opened and my name was called.  As I walked toward the woman calling me, this elderly lady jumped up and kind of put herself between the door closing behind her.  “Do you do triage?” she asked the medical person, who turned out to be a young female doctor who looked to be about 12 years old and not a nurse at all, as I had first thought.  The doctor was not sure how to answer as we three stood there forming a triangle in the doorway, me not knowing which examining room she wanted me to go to, and the lady pulling the ice pack away from her eye to reveal…a very normal looking eye.  No eyeball hanging, not even redness in the eye or blood dripping down her face.  “I’ve injured my eye and am worried I might have a concussion,” she whispered melodramatically to the doctor.  Do you do triage?”  Then the doctor understood the question.  “No,” she answered, “but take a seat and we’ll see you as soon as we can.”  And as we stood there, the lady leaned in even closer to the doctor and whispered again, “Do I have to wait for all these people to go in first?”  I think the doctor was once again taken aback by the question.  Did she misunderstand what was being asked of her?  There was what you call a poignant pause as she digested what was being asked of her, wanting to make sure she understood.  Then she got it.  “Yes,” she replied, “you do.  Have a seat.”

And off we walked to deal with me and my sinus situation.

Later, when I got home, I kept thinking about this woman and her selfish request to go ahead of everyone else.  Now, if her eye had been hanging by a thread, if she were in danger of bleeding to death, if she had stopped breathing, maybe then those sick folk who were patiently waiting their turn to see the doctor would have gladly relinquished their place in line.  But when she pulled the ice pack away from her eye to reveal very little damage, I realized that this was a case of pure entitlement: for some reason, this woman thought she should go ahead of these other people who weren’t nearly as needy or as sick as she.

Of course it made me think of the verse “count others more significant than yourself ” (Phil 2:3).  Inside our own skin, looking out at the world through our own eyes, we tend to see things from a very slanted perspective: our own.  No one deserves blessings like we do; no one merits safety and protection like ourselves.  And as I thought about that self-focused lady at the Urgent Care, I prayed about my own slant on life.  Like Paul, I want to be able to get out of my own way, to be more like Jesus in the way that He was able to put others before Himself all the time.  I thanked God for such a lesson so early in the year.  (See, there are some benefits to being sick after all!)

It’s not a bad goal or resolution for 2010, in or out of Urgent Care.  “Jesus, let me think about others before myself, let me let others go before me, a little bit more this year than last.”  Amen.

I hope you have a New Me Resolution for 2010 like this, fashioned out of the clay of where you are living right now, what’s happening in your life or needs to happen.  Make a commitment to shine more brightly this year, to love more fully, to be more and more obedient to what God is calling you to.  What an interesting and challenging year it would be if we would all do this and be resolute about making it happen!

Lots of exciting things happening in CA already this year, and next year I’ll talk about one of the “biggies” taking place in a few days!

Regards,  Rita

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