A few months ago, my son had a brain scan to attempt to discover the reason for his migraines (By the way, it was inconclusive. But in this case, no news is good news!). The procedure took about ninety minutes and I spent that time in the waiting room. I had brought a book and my phone. With these distractions plus the televisions (Who doesn’t enjoy an hour of The 700 Club?) and various magazines, the time should’ve flown by. Instead, I found myself fascinated by the other family members and friends of patients in the room. I was reading their expressions and, in some cases, listening to every word of their conversations.
I realized three things: 1) Some people cannotwhisper. They are genetically predisposed to have a speaking volume that is always adequate for a lecture hall. 2) Murfreesboro has a transgender community. Hmm…Go figure. 3) People over seventy are awesome at waiting.
There was an older lady sitting near me with what I finally decided was her husband and daughter. Eventually, her son-in-law also joined them. They were there because a young woman in their family (Granddaughter? Great granddaughter?) was having some kind of minor surgery. The older woman brought the newspaper and used the majority of the time I was there to read aloud every ad and half of every article. She was thrilled to find out that Subway often sells foot-long sandwiches for $5! She was dismayed by the article about a groom who made his own wedding cake (Lemon curd filling? That just didn’t sound right.). She handled a potentially stressful situation—waiting to hear bad news about a loved one—with the calmness of an air traffic controller. She patted her daughter’s knee several times and kept the conversations light. Her son-in-law left at least twice to smoke in the parking lot, but she never broke a sweat.
I was in awe of her, but I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. Where I am the generation of the Video Game and the Music Video and my kids are the generation of On-Demand and Text Messaging, she is the generation of the War Department Telegram and Ration Cards. Her family survived the Depression and polio outbreaks. She knows how to wait. Her generation has perfected it.
So now I wonder: Can I exceed the standards of my generation? Can I appreciate the wonders of this Age without demanding them as a God-given right? Can I be content with the ability to fast-forward commercials in the shows that I DVR-ed without complaining that I can only record two shows at one time instead of three?
I watched a documentary about the Dust Bowl on PBS last night. They interviewed dozens of people who were children living in Oklahoma, Kansas, and other states affected by the crop devastation of the “Dirty Thirties.” These people spoke about the extreme hardships they faced and the small victories they won. One of the stories that stuck with me was when the flour companies began making their flour bags out of floral printed fabric because they knew the farmer’s wives were sewing their children’s clothes from the empty sacks. This was a group of people whose identities were forged by fire. I personally don’t want to suffer. Never liked it–never will. But I can see the effects of the lack of struggles and it’s not pleasant. My prayer is that God will strengthen my faith and reorganize my priorities to reflect His plan for me. And if that means I have to wear a dress made of flour sack, so be it.