As I lay in a recovery bed the morning after surgery, the young nurse who was caring for me was friendly and helpful. Yet she was having a rough day. She finally blurted, “I got fired. I knew it would happen one day.” I thought she meant from her job, but she related that it was a patient who had asked for a different attending nurse.
Earlier I had overheard the demand for a nurse manager from across the hall. I assured this nurse that everyone who had spent the previous night was aware of one patient in our curtained ward who was loudly obnoxious and difficult. (The patient demanded certain foods, and a specific procedure before leaving for home.) My husband and I chatted with the nurse about her training and the psychological challenges of medical work. She seemed to relax as we learned a little more about her life. She became one of the better parts of my overnight stay.
Weeks later I had a regular biannual dental appointment with teeth cleaning. My dental hygienist was a friendly midlife woman who chatted while she set up equipment, learning about me and my teeth. While my mouth was still free, somehow our conversation led to questions about where I attended church and some of my beliefs.
The hygienist told me how she had come to know Jesus Christ 20 years ago, after her children came home singing religious songs learned at their private school. One day she saw an invitation for Bible studies at their school and she signed up. Then some really nice women came to her home to study with her. And even though she was later baptized and has been attending a church, it was evident she had questions about doctrines and scriptures. She asked for my permission to query me on several doctrines. She seemed relieved with my perspective on our topic of eternal predestination. I am glad she felt safe to ask her questions. As I left her chair, I told her I would be praying for her.
The last scenario took place at a social dinner for clients of our financial planner. After an afternoon of grandson babysitting, I looked forward to good food, uncertain of who else would be attending. When we sat down at one of the restaurant tables that evening, a woman sat across from me introducing herself with my own first name. I responded “Me too” and we laughed. After listening to several financial presentations, we chatted about Karen’s business and my interests.
At some point, my new friend picked up on my values as we spoke about how easily offended people have become and the seeming lack of civility. She shared about a previous social occasion in which she was asked whether she believed that Jesus Christ was God. When she replied that she believed that Jesus is God, the woman across from her was appalled and incensed. Not long after, the other woman got up and left where they had been sitting. My friend was shocked that a person could not even hear that Jesus is God. We also spoke of other situations, travels, and beliefs. Later my husband told me that while I went to the restroom, she told him, “Your wife is very special.”
Be Present and Listen
Sometimes it seems the previous avenues of meeting and serving people have dried up or changed. Yet sharing the love and character of God is often pretty simple—be present and listen. Many people are searching for hope and meaning in this life. As I continue praying for God to find ways for me to honor him, I am delighted and surprised that conversations come in the most unexpected ways.
Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:
- In what situations could you practice being a better listener?
- Is it necessary to be an extrovert in order to share your beliefs or faith?
Karen Spruill writes from Florida.
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