The Waiting Room
A vision keeps visiting me over and over of a spiritual emergency room. In it there are doctors and nurses working around the clock to repair souls. There are the administrators at the desks signing people in and asking them to take a seat in the waiting room. Yes, even the spiritual emergency room has a waiting room.
This vision comes to me mostly at night when everything is shut down from the day, and I am left with the worry of tomorrow. I am left wondering what kind of future I will have, and if it will be what I always dreamed of. My despair and depression are on high alert until the light starts to peak through the windows, and eventually my mind shuts down too and I sleep. Once asleep I am plagued with the stress and anxiety of what if. What if I don’t get that job. What if I can’t find my place? What if I don’t get married and have a family? What if I don’t become a success story? What if no one cares about anything I have done? What if I wasted my life?
Often, I turn to music in these moments and it is what helps me get through. It is a really great thing that music was invented. It can speak to you when nothing else will. It has a direct phone line to your heart. More often than not my heart will only answer to music.
So here we are in our spiritual emergency room. We have a huge need to see the doctor, because our soul is in need of surgery. We have been diagnosed with some horrible disease like lack-of-faith, or lack-of-trust, or teetering on the edge of suicidal thoughts.
This is where we come to be in repair. When you have depression you come here all the time. The administration knows who I am. I am in the system as one of the usual cases who refuse to believe I can be saved. I am in code red on the charts that says I am at higher risk and I need to be evaluated as soon as the doctor can see me.
Sometimes I get tired of the endless exams, forms, and questions of my state-of-mind, but I know they are just doing their job. This is a spiritual quest and it has to be perfect. It has to follow all of the rules and guidelines. I look around and notice a line behind me. This isn’t anything new, because every time I have been here there is a long line. I know it’s going to be another long night in the spiritual emergency room.
After all my information is tallied and I am deemed fit to sit down and fill out the updated forms I grab a pen and go to work. I am sent to the ever-crowded waiting room. It is here where I will spend a lot of time. I will be made to focus on what I have done, where I am heading, and what I could do differently.
My comfort is that among the endless thoughts that torture my already troubled mind is the soothing familiar sounds of my heart music. I find this to be the only part of the waiting room that brings me peace. That and my observation of the souls around me. They all have their own horrible diagnosis. They are all here for their own reasons. The doctor will evaluate them too. They are filling out forms and wondering why it needs to be updated every time they come here. Some of them hate the waiting room too.
The speaker comes on and I hear an old familiar song from my childhood, “Sometimes the night seems to go on for days,When it’s hard to see the light through the darkness and haze ,While the world around you makes you feel out of place ,And the burdens that you carry are just too hard to face ,Just reach out and He’ll reach in, Take your broken heart and make it whole again, It don’t matter who you are or where you’ve been, Just reach out, and He’ll reach in ” Just Reach Out By Petra
I hear another song right after that from a more recent time in my life, “Then Jesus showed up, Said, “Before we go up, I thought that we might reminisce., See, one night in your life, When you turned out the lights, You asked for and prayed for My forgiveness., You cried wolf., The tears they soaked your fur.,The blood dripped from your fangs., You said,, ‘What have I done?’, You loved that Lamb, With every sinful bone., And there you wept alone., Your heart was so contrite., You said, ‘Jesus, please forgive me of my crimes., Sanctify this withered heart of mine., Stay with me until my life is through., And on that day please take me home with You.” Deathbed By Relient K
As I sit here listening to the songs pumping through the sound system, I know that they are speaking to me in a very real way. I know that the message is coming through loud and clear. At times the waiting room is used to get that message home. It is here we are forced to be alone with our thoughts, to reflect on our past, and to think about the present, and wonder about the future. The waiting room offers more spiritual healing than the actual exam itself. I think that is why we are left there waiting for so long.
The others don’t tend to share my feelings on the waiting room. There is a tension stirring as some diagnosis are worse than my own. Some souls are damaged more than mine. Those are the ones that often sit with their heads down. They don’t bother filling out the forms. They don’t hear the Christian music familiar to them pumping through the speaker. It is too hard to feel or hear something familiar. They just focus on the damage, and they refuse to fill out the forms. They will let the doctor lecture them about the forms during the evaluation.
I feel a sense of compassion for these diagnosed souls since I have been them more often than I care to admit. I give them a kindred glance, and sometimes I try to speak to them. I will go over and sit by them and offer some kind encouraging words. Since I was them, I know that is not what any of them wants. They want to sit in the waiting room with their heads down, and they want to drown out the familiar songs coming from the speakers.
Once my forms are done and I am glancing at the clock waiting to be seen by the ever-faithful doctors. I take a deep breath and look around. This is prime soul watching time. This is when we get to see people for who they really are when the masks are off. You can’t hide in the waiting room of the spiritual emergency room. You have to look around at each and every soul and truly see them for the first time. Some of them are regulars like me, and we have our own language in the waiting room. We know what is coming next.
Some are newbies and have no idea what is happening. Those are the ones who are in serious denial of their spiritual quests and more importantly diagnosis. I can tell the newbies right away. They are the ones making it very obvious to blend in. They get up and dance to the music on the speakers, and have the forms filled out really fast like they have all the answers memorized. They are the ones who act like they are here for some spa treatment instead of a major spiritual surgery.
I have to admit I prefer the downright depressing ones who keep their heads down and refuse to fill out the forms. At least they are honest. They know they are damaged and here for a reason that is beyond anything they can control. They refuse to go by the rules of the waiting room and more importantly they don’t skip around like they are just here on some job retreat.
Sometimes one of the rebels with the blank forms will take control of the speakers. You will hear a song that is honest even if it is not obvious-Christian to our feelings,“Well it’s good to know that you’ll be okay,I’ve been waiting for this,And I’ll be there to sit,While you pray no one’s blaming me,I’m not supposed to wait,When they open up your heart…,I have been good,I understood,Like a machine they’ll fix you from the start ,I’m in repair,The life that we share,I know that I’ll be lost in,But we’re always in repair,Lock the door, lock the door,And it’s good to know that you’ll drive away,From this car crash nightmare, And I’ll be there to help you again,There’s no danger,We’re just killing time again,When they order up new parts,I have been good, I understood,Like a machine they’ll fix you from the start
I’m in repair,The life that we share,I know that I’ll be lost in,But we’re always in repair.” In Repair by Our Lady Peace.
I can’t help but smile. This song really describes what it is like to be depressed. You are in constant repair. Of course, they always get found out and the uplifting Christian music goes back to playing over the speakers. For one moment we get to feel something brutally honest.
The time has come for me to leave the waiting room and go to the doctor. The nurse, who always wears bright white, and has a positive smile no matter what your diagnosis is lets you through sturdy wooden doors.
The Doctor’s Exam
You know this part from any hospital you ever been in. They make you sit there and answer a bunch of awkward questions as you wait another lifetime for the doctor. The spiritual emergency room is no different. Once you go through all of your symptoms, and hand the forms that have been updated to the nurse; the second waiting room begins. The waiting room in the exam room. The waiting of the doctor to grace you with his faith and wisdom for brighter days ahead.
You take time to examine your surroundings and notice all the carefully placed images on the walls. In a real hospital this consists of gory ‘what your body looks like with cancer’ photos, hang in there kitten posters, and some glamorous anti-smoking images. In the spiritual exam room, you have Jesus with his lamb, Jesus walking on water, Jesus with the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus healing the sick. These images tell you, the one who has been a regular damaged soul for eons that in fact, Jesus can heal your brokenness too.
Eventually the doctor comes in and he is the kind of doctor you would expect in a spiritual emergency room. He is filled with self-righteous purpose. He knows his hands have healed millions of tortured souls through Jesus. He got his degree in the spiritual medicine of Harvard spiritual medicines. He can’t wait to go through your forms and tell you all the ways you have disappointed the big guy. Don’t feel bad if you want to hit him in his smug face. We all do.
The doctor has bad news for me. I already knew that before I came in. I know I need spiritual surgery. He gives me the rundown on what the surgery will do for my longevity, and what I need to do to prepare myself. I don’t want to wait anymore. I let the doctor know I am ready to do the surgery now. The time comes in everyone’s life when they need to come to terms with spiritual surgery. When you have been in the waiting room as many times as I have. You just want to get it over with.
The preparation doesn’t take that long and I am pleasantly surprised. The bright-light nurses are all humming familiar Christian songs as they prepare my soul for what is to come. I am told this will take a long time, since my soul has been in serious need of repair for eons. I agree that I have put it off for some time. I know this is going to hurt, but it has to be done. I just lay there now and pray. I pray in silence since I don’t want the doctors or nurses to assist me in their version of prayer. I want to be one on one with God. I want God to know that I am ready for the surgery. I am ready for Him to come in via His doctors and nurses to do whatever it takes to create in me a new soul. It is time to say goodbye to the severely damaged and broken one.
However, it is not as easy as you would imagine. We are in such pain carrying around all our despair, depression, damage, brokenness, and feeling of loss. Yet, once we are on that spiritual surgical table about to be cut open we panic. We panic since we have lived with this tortured soul for so long, and in a way it is all we know. It has been our best friend in dark times, because it is the only thing that understands the dark times. It has been the shoulder to cry on in the dark room when we are lost in our broken thoughts. It has sustained us through all the hard times. How are we going to survive with some clean soul that doesn’t know anything about suffering? How is this surgery going to make us any better?
Yes, we all find ourselves in the spiritual emergency room with some horrible diagnosis. Those of us who are honest will admit we are regular visitors. We have been in the waiting room with familiar songs in our head for comfort. We know all the faces and what those faces have to tell us. We know all the unending questions on the forms and have updated them time and time again. However, it is often in the times we need it the most that we find ourselves there. We find ourselves in the waiting room. We spend a large amount of our time in the waiting room. If we are open to it we can learn a lot about ourselves there. We can learn a lot about those around us there. Maybe, just maybe we can all try to find some healing as we wait… wait for our souls to heal.