I was in my early 20’s, serving in a ministry position, filled with what I thought were the answers to life. At an age where I thought I had accrued wisdom, and was ready to share my insight and knowledge, dispensing it freely, or forcibly, in an unsolicited manner. Obviously people needed what I had to offer, or so I thought.
I was clueless.
Fortunately I had a friend who mentioned that one of the experiences that most grounded him was spending time in a hospital waiting room. Hesitantly, I carried my sagacious self into a local waiting room and planted myself on the orange, hardened plastic chairs, observing the various interactions around me.
An older couple, tired with years but patient from experience, comfortably waiting together. A blue collar gentlemen, paint strewn across his work boots, anxiously scrolling through his phone. A young college-aged woman, turning the pages of a magazine but not really reading.
All of them waiting, likely for loved ones on the other side of that door. A door that years before, separated me from my own loved ones, never to return.
In that moment I realized that I had experience, but no wisdom. I had empathy, but no connection. I had questions without answers. I nervously ambled over the the young woman and asked her what brought her to the hospital on that day.
“My father had a heart attack this morning. They’re not sure if he is going to make it.”
And though I was a complete stranger, I could relate. I sat quietly with her for a while, listening as she told me some of her favorite memories with her dad. Her worried eyes lit up with each story, the little girl with her hero. Her protector. Her dad. She didn’t really need any answers, at least none that I could offer. I got her a coffee, and hopefully gave her some connection, that grounded us both.