January is the month most health experts and fitness evangelists will proclaim: “Lose the weight.”
I have a little different take on that proclamation. I say, “It’s time to lose the wait.”
I know a little something about wait. As a hospital chaplain, I sit in a lot of waiting rooms, and I am somewhat of a wait expert.
As an expert, I can tell you there are times when one must wait on life, and there are times when one must refuse to wait.
In a Houston hospital one afternoon in 1992, I met the family of a woman who had refused to live her life in a waiting room. The young woman had cystic fibrosis, and I sat with her parents that afternoon as they began to adjust to the idea she was dying.
CF patients often are a special breed. Most of them have a wait problem. The problem is none of them can afford to wait for life. They have to go and grab it.
CF causes patients to compact their life plans into fewer than three decades. Every day is a struggle with the cliché question: “What would you do if you had only one more day to live?” The question becomes the mantra of their lives.
This young woman had grappled with that question nearly every day of her 21 years. She recently had moved out on her own and was successfully tackling a new set of problems. She was going to college, working a job, finding health insurance, building permanent relationships, all the while keeping up the physical therapy and medications.
But the real reason I was paged to the ICU that day was to help this family implement the decision their daughter had made for the last day of her life. She had decided she would donate her organs.
This was a decision her family knew well, because she had planned this day nearly every day of her short life. She was a well-known evangelist for organ donation and had urged all her friends to plan this last day of life with organ donation cards.
The family explained all of this to the attending doctor, but, unfortunately, the doctor was holding onto older definitions of death and life support. He did not go withdraw the life support in time for this woman to donate her organs. The last day of this woman’s life didn’t go as she had anticipated.
Some might say, “What a pointless ending. How sad.” Maybe.
But that’s not the way I saw it.
I saw a young woman who had refused to live her life in a waiting room. I saw a woman brave enough to live each day as if it were her last. I saw her choices fulfilled many times in the organ donors she enlisted. I saw her life bring life to many others.
Hospital waiting rooms are understandable places for people to convene when one has few choices about life. But for the most part, God designed us to live outside the waiting room.
Life plans never are implemented in the waiting rooms of life. They are lived in the battlefield of life. This girl knew that.
So what are you waiting on? Lose the wait