It wasn’t going to be a rushed day, but I did have plans for the morning. I was to lead a Bible study group for an hour and then head down the road for a doctor’s visit. I would probably meet my husband for lunch and then go back home to get caught up on household things — not a pressing day, but I did have an agenda. I arrived at the doctor’s office and it was a rescheduled visit that I soon found out was “not entered into the computer database,” which meant I would need to wait to be worked in. Okay… it wasn’t a big deal, my day was not pressing and, after all, I was there for blood work and hadn’t eaten so why waste this time, right? So, I agreed to wait.
Finding my place in the waiting room, I thought about what I had brought with me. I NEVER leave home without a book, my Bible, or my Kindle, but guess what? I had nothing to read. Red-faced, I had to borrow a Bible that morning at Bible study because I forgot mine at home! Who forgets their Bible when they’re leading a Bible study? I’ve never done that before! Crazy. I left home that morning knowing I would be right back and no reason to grab a book and my Kindle was charging…still charging (at home) unfortunately. No help there. So, I dug my phone out of my purse and thought I would mess around on the internet; just checking up on Facebook friends should quickly pass the time; weird, no phone signal — really? I casually struck up a conversation with a woman sitting a couple of chairs down from me, but when she was called back to see the doctor there I was once again left to stare at the pictures on the wall. How about a magazine? The selection wasn’t the greatest, an outdated American Quarter Horse and a tattered medical “something” for assisted living — I chose the AQH.
Flipping mindlessly through the pages, reading only the headlines, I glanced at my watch — two hours, really? I had been waiting two hours? Several patients had come and gone and now it was only me and one other woman who had quietly slipped in and sat across the room from me. Our eyes casually met, I smiled at her, and returned to my “all important” American Quarter Horse. Within a few minutes, I heard the woman say, “Your purse is beautiful.”
Looking her way and then back to the purse by my side I replied, “Oh, thanks! It’s a Vera Bradley*.”
“I know, I have one of her purses that my mom gave me years ago, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one like yours, I really like it.”
Don’t ask me why, but I was drawn to this woman. I laid the magazine aside, picked up my belongings, walked across the room, sat directly next to her and proceeded to talk to her about my purse. Something came over me and I began this entire spill about this fantastic purse! To a complete stranger, I opened it up, told her the style, showed her all the pockets, zippers, explained the convenience of the design and size, and babbled on like an infatuated purse fanatic, sounding like an over-zealous Vera Bradley sales representative. I even went so far as to tell her how to wash the silly thing in the washing machine… what cycle to use, temperature of water, and brand of detergent! Good grief! Enough! What was I doing anyway? I didn’t know this woman! This was the first time I had ever laid eyes on her and I was talking to her like she was my long lost twin. What I didn’t realize, was that this act (as crazy as it sounds) broke down a wall that allowed this woman to open up and talk to me for the next thirty or so minutes.
It was almost as if a dam burst in that very moment. I was a total stranger, (actually “stranger” than she probably first realized) but she shared with me that she had been in an abusive and neglected marriage relationship for 30+ years. She was once a nurse and had been hurt on her job, suffering years of back pain and disability, had to sell most of her belongings and move into government housing in order to buy transportation. The marriage was now just a painful scar and she was currently taking care of a premature grandbaby. Her daughter’s house recently burned and she was trying to help her financially and physically with a medically needy newborn. If that wasn’t enough — she was doubting her “religion” (her words, not mine).
It only took about a minute into our conversation for the Holy Spirit to whisper in my ear, “Carolyn, this is not a casual conversation about a purse, this woman is hurting…listen closely.” She was thrilled to find out that my husband was a pastor and where our church was located because “it just so happens” that she is moving to that area this year — how about that? She said she needed a church family and her faith has been tested these past years. She was searching for a God who is real. Her “religion” as she put it, just wasn’t working. Wow.
When the nurse called her name to come back and see the doctor, our conversation ended as abruptly as it started. But she did not leave without us exchanging names and I was able to give her a card with our church information and my personal contact numbers. We lightly touched each others’ hands and she tenderly said, “God bless you sweet lady.” Oh my. I expect to see or hear from this dear lady again. I began to pray for her in the midst of our conversation and I continue to pray even now as God breathes her across my mind. I’m reminded by this encounter, God is in control of my life. I may have an “all important” agenda, but His agenda is greater. I need to keep my ears, eyes, and heart open to those unexpected delays and interruptions because, it might just be, He is about to do something miraculous in my presence.
Coincidence or divine appointment? Some would say it was just dumb luck, or grumble because of the time “wasted” in the doctor’s office. Others might view it as simply two women drawn together over a purse (for cryin’ out loud) and the conversation just naturally evolved. If I chose, I could look at it from any of those angles. But, when the nurse called my name within the next five minutes and apologized for the wait, I simply had to smile and say, “Oh, it’s okay — really, it’s all good.” In my heart I knew, my time had not been my own, and certainly not wasted; it had been divinely interrupted and annointed by the Great Physician.
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