Last Saturday, I had my 3rd volunteer shift at the hospital. I met 3 of the most genuine people on the face of this planet, but this one guy changed me the most.
“What’s your name?” He asked me with a tired, meek voice.
“I’m Lea,” I said with a smile.
“I’m Jason.” Jason was an old man with white hair, bushy eyebrows, and a beard. He seemed desperate with his wide puppy eyes, small and meek like a child. He stared at the wall rather than me, but what I saw in his eyes was simple beauty.
“Tell me about yourself,” I said.
And he told me all about his daughter and how he divorced his wife for cheating on him. He told me about how he used to live in Redding as a body man, fixing cars. He loved his job a lot.
“There’s this church in Redding that I love called Bethel. Have you heard of it?”
“Yeah. They would serve these big meals to the homeless that were quite popular. They’re great people.”
“We’re you homeless?”
“For 7 months. Best time of my life.”
“Because of the freedom?”
“Oh yeah.” I smiled.
“But then I had a stroke and lost control of both of my legs.”
“Aw,” I replied softly. We sat there together for a moment, both thinking and exploring our thoughts.
“Do you have any dreams now?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Honestly just to walk again. All I wish I could do was walk again.”
Man. That sucks.
“Don’t take your legs for granted,” he said.
“I fractured my foot once and I couldn’t walk. I felt so hindered. But you know I just believe that everything happens for a reason,” I said, intuitively.
“What are you grateful for?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Being alive, I guess. I’ve been living in a bed for 7 months and I don’t really do much except watch t.v and I just wish I could walk. ”
We then both criticized the eyebrows this one guy had on the show he was watching.
After laughing like crazy, I sat down. “Can I tell you my story now, since you’ve told me yours?” I ask. He nods. And then I began.
I told him about how I used to fail test after test after test. How I struggle so much with my confidence. How I tried all of these different things to try and make me feel confident, and how they all left me devastated and empty.
And then I told about how well I’m doing in school now. How God is using my past experiences for his glory.
I ended with what I’m currently struggling with right now.
I lifted up my arm. “I have this skin condition called eczema. Maybe you can see it.” The room was on the darker side and my bumpy, discolored, red patches were not as apparent.
He shook his head. He couldn’t see it.
“Sometimes I scratch like crazy in the mirror crying until it bleeds because I don’t think it will ever get better. But then I just try to believe that everything happens for a reason. Because I know that for sure.”
He nodded, taking in my words.
“You know honey, everything is gonna be okay,” he said, confidently.
My heart melted. When people usually say that to me, I want to slap them. But for some reason, I knew he meant it. He knew, because of all the crap he’s been through. Because of a wisdom I was too young to possess.
He paused, “One thing I know for sure is that God loves us. And you just gotta have faith in him, and learn to love yourself.”
I looked up, astonished. “You believe in God,” I said, beaming with joy. I instantly noticed a bible tucked in a bag by his bed.
“Is that a bible?”
“Can I see it?”
I reached into the bag, unraveling a black leather bible stuffed with tracks and notes.
“A nurse, Esther, gave it to me. She comes and checks on me every once in awhile,” he explained.
“Wow. You know, I really strongly believe God loves us too.” He finally looks me in the eye. A peace washed over me knowing he was saved. I felt as though I was supposed to meet him today. Despite his experiences, the one thing he felt confident in was God. He was the definition of a broken, beautiful, masterpiece.
And so was I.
I sat, pondering, staying with him. There was nothing more to be said.
After a long moment of silence, I stood up.
“I’m going to see if the nurses need anything else. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“Oh no, honey you are perfect. Thank you.”
“I want you to know that you really inspired me today. Maybe if anything, one of the reasons why you went through what you did was because one day you’d meet me. And your experiences would remind me that even in the worst circumstances possible where all dreams seemed crushed, if you have faith in God you will have a joy that cannot be explained.”
A small smile lights up his face, taking the place of his once desperate, meek expression.
“Just keep looking up. And trusting God,”he says pointing towards the ceiling. He went on and on about having faith and hope in Christ.
I slipped his bible back into the bag.
“You put that book back?” He asks.
“Yeah. Thank you for talking to me today. I love meeting people like you.”
“God bless you.”
“God bless you too.”
And then I walked outside and found Herman, the nurse telling me who to talk too.
“Your patients are making me cry,” I said.
“Oh yeah. He’s something else. You should go wake up the patient in the last room! He needs to eat!”
And I realized that talking to these people who hardly see anyone, who are battling things harder than I could ever imagine, was exactly what I love to do.
A little kindness and understanding is so small but makes such a huge difference. We can learn so much from each other’s experiences in life.
Because they happen for a reason.