This week I worked my first senior health fair since COVID stopped the events from happening.
My morning hadn’t gone as planned, and I really felt I needed to be somewhere else instead of at the event. I walked in to setup 5 minutes before the event was opening, and I had a lady standing there waiting to learn what I had to offer as soon I was setup. Before we began talking about how to do chest compressions, two of her friends were also at the booth ready to learn.
“This is going to be better than I expected,” I thought, as I chastised myself for thinking it was going to be another “trick or treat for adults” event.
My enthusiasm was short lived. Throughout the next three hours, less than five more people had any real interest in obtaining knowledge. They all simply wanted my signature on a bingo-style sheet that would allow them to win a door prize.
To be honest, after my eighth time of signing a piece of paper and hearing the words similar to, “I took CPR 15 years ago, I don’t need a refresher,” as they walked off before I could tell them why they were wrong, I was frustrated.
In my mind, solving the reason I had been in essence late was a much better use of my time than applying my signature to a piece of paper surrounded by people who already felt the knew everything. Plus, my phone kept going off with TXTs and voicemails of people who needed my assistance. I wanted to be anywhere but where I was.
“Health fairs are stupid. I won’t miss doing these,” I TXT my husband.
“I bet. They are usually just grab stuff and run,” he wrote back.
About an hour before the event was over, I noticed the very first woman who walked by my booth standing in the middle of the aisle. Tears were slowly falling out of her eyes and rolling down her face. No one seemed to notice.
“Excuse me ma’am. Are you okay?” I asked.
“No,” she replied.
“Do you need to sit down and talk to someone?” I asked.
“I would appreciate that,” she said.
For the next 20 minutes, she told me a lot about her life. But the heart of her problem came down to a new lady that had moved into the community. The new lady had made friends with her “best friend”, and she felt left out.
“I don’t want to give her anything anymore, and I don’t want to be her friend anymore if she doesn’t have time for me. Is that wrong? She told me vengeance is from the devil,” the woman told me, as she explained how the trio I had met at the start of the event had been a duo just a few weeks earlier.
“Are you a Christian?” I asked her.
“I am, but I don’t go to Bible Study anymore because another lady who runs it told me I’m not joyful enough to be a Christian,” she responded.
“Good news for you,” I responded. “Only Christ can judge if you have what it takes to be a Christian. So don’t let someone else’s judgement keep you from studying with other Christians. Her judgement is just as much of sign of being broken as your lack of joy at times is. That’s what’s great about being a Christian. God loves us despite our brokenness.”
Then I asked her, “Is it safe to say the tears I see today are because you’re a bit jealous of the time your friend is spending with someone new instead of you?”
“Yes,” she replied, as the tears fell more.
“Do you ever think God feels the same way about your relationship with him? Do you ever find a new friend or activity and put it in place of talking to him?”
She looked me straight in the eyes for the first time and said, “Yes.”
“But God doesn’t tell us he won’t love us anymore in those moments. He keeps protecting us from afar. And the moment we return to Him in prayer, we expect him to love us just the same as He did the day we stopped giving him the attention he deserves. Would you agree?”
She didn’t say anything.
“God forgives. Jesus told us the greatest commandment was to love God and love people. He didn’t tell us to be jealous when people don’t have time for us. He didn’t tell us to withhold love when we don’t get what we need. He taught us to love people. He taught us to forgive others. What do you think about that?”
I let the silence sit there for a minute.
As she began to stand, I thought I had really screwed up my words of wisdom.
“I see my friends, and I think I need to go back over there with them,” she replied. “I am so sorry I cried.”
“Someone told me recently the last piece of advice I will give you,” I responded with a smile. As I gave her a hug I shared these words, “Never apologize for crying. It shows humility.”
As she walked away, I realized God puts us in places we may not want to be to help others. So what if I only taught 5 people how to do chest compressions in three hours. So what if people were waiting for me to call them back or answer a message. God knew where He needed me that day, and I wasn’t afraid to speak His truth when He needed me to share it. His timing and where He places us always has a purpose.