It was an early morning. I had barely slept in anticipation of the coming day. I tapped my foot on the floor repeatedly. I noticed dad’s knee was rocking up and down almost to the same rhythm. Neither of us could deny our nerves at this point. We had been told mom’s heart surgery was said to take only 3 or 4 hours. We were nearing the 5th hour without much word.
She had been through other operations, but it seems like the heart is like the mother-load of surgical procedures. The heart is what gives your body life, and determines so many other bodily processes. As strong as my mom’s heart is, I felt it was so fragile in that moment. And I was scared.
In my time of wanting to run through the doors and find out for myself what was happening, a family sat down close to us in the waiting room. Two women and two men. I noted them to be of middle age, expecting that to determine them as peaceful waiting room companions. However, it wasn’t long before I began hearing little sounds from a little screen in one of the lady’s hands. She had a tablet, showing videos to the others with her. The noises of cats doing tricks, people scaring others, and insane laughter came from her tablet screen. One after another, they continued to watch and roared in laughter at the scenes. I was not amused.
I did not think this was funny. I was waiting for my mom to be okay. I was waiting for a good word. I didn’t have time for obnoxious noises of cats and dogs and silly people doing silly things. This was a surgery waiting room. Not the place, nor the time for such a thing. At least that’s where my mind was that morning in the midst of my waiting.
I began to sigh deeply, trying to resist saying something to her. I could have calmly asked her to turn the noise down, but what I really wanted to do was throw the tablet after almost 20 minutes of nonstop racket. However, just about the time I went to say something to her, Jesus said something to me.
‘She has someone behind those doors too.’
Yes, those very doors I wanted so badly to run behind to see my mom, were holding someone she loved as well. The entire time I was focusing on the noises from the videos she was playing, I forgot the acknowledge the thoughts that were probably haunting her the same way my inner thoughts were haunting me. I had to take a moment and a deep breath and realize that each person in that room represented someone else on a table behind the door. Each person in the room had a loved one having some sort of operation or procedure.
For my mom it was a heart. For hers it could have been a wrist, a leg or a brain. Regardless, it’s a person. A person who is loved. A person who loves. And so, in finding our commonality in that moment I was able to subdue my anxious thoughts toward her and her jolly laughter. I suppose dogs and cats doing tricks, or silly people doing silly things, was just the best thing for her in that moment to find relief from her worry. If so, that’s okay.
After taking this in, I sat a little deeper in my chair. She finally turned off the videos and read a book. The space became quiet again, back to its regular rhythms of people gathering coffee and minimal conversations dispersed throughout the room. And in the stillness and waiting without answers from what was happening behind the surgery room doors, Jesus taught me a lesson.
We were each waiting for a loved one to come out of surgery. We were each waiting for a loved one to wake up, and heal well, and get on with life. For some of us, this would happen optimally; things would go as planned. Others may struggle and have to fight harder to return to their daily lives. And still, even others may not return to their daily lives at all.
So in the moment when someone is interrupting my thoughts, my time, my impatience; I need to rely and default to my commonality with them before jumping into judgment over our differences. God has given us words to speak, and mouths in which to speak them. However, He also gives us the gradient of hope in which to disperse with our words; and we can choose to give little or much.
Jesus is more patient than I am. Thank goodness. And in that moment I was able to act slowly enough to hear His truth. You never know what others may be dealing with. You never know what others are processing. You never know what loud voices may be in their own heads interrupting their own peace. You never know; but we have to remember that we all have someone or something behind the door, in surgical waiting rooms and daily life alike. And in the moments of waiting, let us be hopeful voices and hopeful words, teaching one another the same lesson Jesus taught me that morning. ‘She has someone behind those doors too.’