An older woman and her husband sat next to me. As often happens, we began to talk, usually about how long we have been waiting, the longest we have ever had to wait, and the various distances we all travel to see this world renowned, and incredibly skillful doctor we share. Then she said four words, “I have a shunt,” and everything changed.
My head whirled around, riveted to her face and especially her eyes. “You do?”
“Yes, two actually.”
“I have one, too,” I said, excitement creeping into my voice.
Her eyes instantly lit up. “You do?” and there followed an hour of, “Do you have trouble with depth perception? Do you see circles? Does it ache?” One question followed another, both of us nodding to one another and saying, “Yes, yes. Me too!”
Finally someone understands, finally someone knows how I feel (both of us were thinking).
Someone understands how odd your vision can be; how colors have changed, how light “gets in the way;” how you can’t tell when a curb is a step up or step down or any step at all; how riding in the passenger seat makes vehicles in front of you look much closer; how many strange things can go wrong with an eyeball after what seems to the world like an easy surgery—why, you didn’t even have to stay in the hospital so how could it be serious? Someone else understands how much pain eye drops can cause, and how all those beta blockers can wreak havoc with your stamina; how careful you have to be when doing something as simple as wiping your eye because of all the hardware inside and on top of it; how inappropriate the remark, “I hope you get better soon,” is because there is no hope for better, just a hope that it will not get worse too soon; and someone else knows the feeling that any day could be the day that it all blows up.
We sat there talking like close personal friends. Occasionally she looked over at her husband and said, “You see? I’m not crazy after all,” and he nodded, a bit patronizingly I thought, but we had developed such a quick and strong bond that perhaps I was just feeling protective.
We were both called to separate exam rooms but when I left, I waved across the hall and wished her well. I never got her name, nor she mine. Strange, I guess, but we never felt the need to ask personal questions—we felt like we had known one another for years, and all because we felt the kinship of understanding what each of us was experiencing when no one else did.
No matter what you are going through today, you have a friend just like that. God emptied Himself to become a man and experience what you experience, feel what you feel, and suffer what you suffer. He did that precisely so He could understand. I always knew that, but now I really know how quickly a bond can form simply because of that shared experience.
But what if I had never responded to the woman’s simple statement about a shunt? What if I had just sat there and done nothing? That bond would never have formed. It takes a response to the offer to gain the reward. It takes a willingness to open up and share with the Lord the things you are feeling. Yes, He already knows, but you will never feel the closeness of that bond until you share with Him as well.
That day it felt like I had found, not a new friend, but a long, lost friend from the past. When it happens that fast, it can’t be a complete stranger, can it? Why don’t you turn around and talk to the Man next to you today and find out for yourself?
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery…Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted, Heb 2:14-18.