Today, I took Itty to the vet for a re-check.
A few days earlier, I had called to cancel another appointment. Except someone made a mistake and canceled today. So they worked us in.
As I neared an hour of waiting, my patience left.
I hate spending too much time at the vet. One, because time is valuable, and two, because I end up seeing things I don’t want to see.
Itty had a good appointment. Her eyes look great, and her blood pressure is normal. It even cost less than I expected. Despite my wait, I thought I was making out pretty well.
Until I heard a young couple crying.
As I stood with my back to them, I rationalized. Maybe kitty has an injury. It’ll get fixed. Maybe they’re just anxious and hate coming here. I get that.
But the more they cried, the more I knew why.
I hate seeing people upset. I’m a cry-with-you type, even if I don’t know what’s the matter.
I wondered, What can I do? What can I say? Will they think I’m weird? Maybe they don’t want to be bothered.
I had to say something.
I wanted to tell them, “To heck with that carrier. Hold your precious baby.” I also knew that a carrier could serve as a barrier to distance yourself from the pain of the moment.
I wanted to tell them I also know what it feels like to sit in a chair like a civilized human when all you want to do is curl up in a ball on the floor and release the sobs you’re trying to control as everyone else seems to act like they don’t notice you’re upset.
Losing our loved ones, whether human or animal, is the worst pain.
Everyone responds differently. Some people don’t want anyone near them. Others fall into a stranger’s embrace. I find the latter more common.
I finished checking out, but I couldn’t walk out the door. So, I went to the girl.
She had orange and black hair, and her hands were tattooed with symbols I had never seen. I was wearing my Proverbs 31:25 shirt. If we saw each other anywhere else outside that moment, we might’ve thought we had nothing in common.
But as she lowered her tissue, and my eyes welled to match hers, we were the same.
“I’m so sorry,” I said, placing my hand on her shoulder. “I’ll pray for you.” All she could do was shake her head “yes.”
“I know what you're going through, and it just sucks. Do you want a hug?" She shook her head again and let herself fall into my shoulder.
"I know it might be weird, but I just want you to know I care." I talked to her kitty and said, “good baby,” and patted the guy on the shoulder. “Hang in there.”
I proceeded out the door, crying. I cried the whole 30-minute ride home, and I’m still crying as I write this.
Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
I must admit, I can really suck at this. I cringe to share this, but I’ve even left a church because I couldn’t deal with the burdensome news the congregation shared Sunday after Sunday.
Sometimes it’s easier to push away others’ problems because we have enough of our own.
Moments like the one at the vet teach me, though. And now I know why my appointment took so long.
I didn’t care if the girl’s tears fell on me. I wasn’t worried about whether or not she had a virus. And if she thought I was a weirdo, oh well, I'd be a weirdo. She was a human in pain, and God placed me there at that moment because He knew I knew what she needed.
God knew I needed her too—to soften a heart that can so quickly harden at the mention of something I disagree with (which was what I was still dealing with from the previous day).
The moment made me think of the story of Lazarus. When Jesus showed up to Lazarus's funeral and saw loved ones weeping, “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (John 11:33).
What followed are two of the most beautiful words in the Bible: “Jesus wept.”
He grieved for those whose hearts grieved. And he shared in that moment with them.
We are to do the same, even when it makes us weirdos.
God gives us opportunities. We might hear them as a whimper over our shoulder. Or maybe we see them in the face of someone at the grocery store. They’re all around us if we pay attention. Somewhere, someone is hurting. And when we see it, the concern we feel is Jesus within us.
Maybe hugging a stranger doesn’t come naturally to you, but I know we don’t have to say much to tell each other we care. Compassion comes in many forms—in the touch of a shoulder, in the look you give someone, in a hand-written note, in prayer hands clasped toward a person who’s too far away to talk to, or even in the silent prayers that only you and God know.
He is calling us to show up in each other’s lives, and when we answer His nudges, it could make all the difference in the world--and in Heaven.