It was just days before Thanksgiving. As I walked out of the clinic and into the patient lobby, my eyes were drawn to a solitary figure, waiting patiently. Typically, I acknowledge a patient and keep on moving, chasing that ever-growing list of to-dos in my office. But since he was the only one there, it seemed rude not to attempt to engage in polite conversation. I’m not much of a conversationalist and it’s easy to ignore the inner voice to reach out to another human being, but I know it’s important so I dived in.
“Are you waiting to see the doc?”
How do you start a conversation with a total stranger anyway? Especially, someone who is our patient, a customer, and may not be feeling well. He responded politely, opening the door to a brief conversation. Within a minute or two, it got real. I learned that he had recently lost his wife and his car needed work. He was hoping to get to Iowa to visit family but wasn’t sure he could make it. He wasn’t asking for help, just sharing honestly about his predicament.
How would you respond?
My heart was already aching for him and I asked if there was anything I could do to help. He politely deferred, with a gentle spirit. As I was wondering what my dear wife would think, I found myself blurting out that if he was stuck in town, he should give me a call and he could join our family gathering. I told him it’s important to be with people when facing the first major holiday after losing the love of your life, and I hoped he could visit his family up north, but if not, please don’t spend Thanksgiving alone.
Hope For Health
He thanked me and we each went our separate ways. I didn’t hear from him, which didn’t surprise me, but I wondered whether he had to spend Thanksgiving alone. I rarely see patients again anytime soon, so I was surprised to run into him in our lobby a few weeks later. Upon greeting him, he smiled. I had to know, so I asked whether he had been able to make the trip to Iowa to visit with family. He had. Life was good. After a brief conversation, I went on my way and never met him again.
Did God orchestrate that conversation with a lonely person on a day filled with worries? I believe he did. But perhaps it was for my benefit as much as for the gentleman I spoke with. You see, we each needed to be affirmed. He was hurting and I had something to share, however small. The gift of a momentary conversation may have been all he needed that bleak day to regain perspective and find hope for health. And I needed to be reminded of the importance of taking time for people.
More Than A Slogan
Hope is an essential element. Without it, our human spirit shrivels and dies. It doesn’t take much to spark hope. Just a kind word, a knowing glance, or a thoughtful gesture can make all the difference in someone’s day.
We are FAiTH Community Health. We bring HOPE for health for the patients we serve by sharing God’s LOVE through whole-person care. And we can’t do it without the sacrifices of our many Friends of FAiTH who demonstrate by their personal commitment that joy is found in caring for those who are unable to repay us. Thank you for helping us minister the love of Christ through healthcare for our friends and neighbors who just need a little help.
Kenn Tilus serves as the Executive Director of Faith Community Health