If I had a body part that wasn’t hurting or exhausted it must be one that I’ve never heard of- even on House M.D. My neck arms and shoulders hurt from craning my neck to make eye contact during meetings…my feet were a blistered mess (because I don’t have enough sense to pack only shoes I know to be reliably comfortable- for Convention. (After 20 Years- you’d think I’d have a clue…but I’m slow. Actually, I suffer from SVD Shoe Vanity Disorder- Whatever. My legs hurt from running through the airport dragging an over-weight suitcase, laptop and purse. My hair hurt from the humidity. Even my smile was exhausted. All I could think was: Room. Bed. Now. As I pushed the elevator button. (Approximately 13,000 times because- repeated pushing of the button always makes the elevator arrive faster. (Hint: it doesn’t. Elevators are card carrying passive aggressives- you push that button after the light is on? You’re gonna be searching for stairs. Just saying.)
When the doors finally opened I dragged myself and my always-too -full -of -stuff -because- I -may- need -it -but never do- bag onto the elevator. Turning to face forward, took what was left of my energy. I was relieved to be in the elevator- alone. Sometimes you use need a minute to be, and maybe to- breathe.. know what I mean? I claimed the elevator space in the name of Tracey- with a huge sigh, then I pushed the button for my floor and mentally willed the doors to close.
Which is when I noticed the woman in the wheelchair, heading for the elevator. My elevator.
It didn’t look like she was going to make it. To be ugly-honest- I didn’t want her to. “She’s probably not a MOPS mom.” I rationalized- “I don’t have to take care of her..” Apparently- I only have to be considerate to certain people. The truth is- I just wanted the elevator to myself- and I wanted to get to my room immediately. f I could have beamed myself there in exchange for every air of shoes I own..- I would have. I thought about pushing the “close door” button.
I didn’t. Instead- did what all good christians do when they are too tired/busy to help someone…I pretended not to notice. I just stood there as the wheelchair got closer- and the doors started to close……
Something said: “Hold the door.” It wasn’t the woman in the wheelchair. It could have been my conscience- or God. I was so exhausted-it could have been my boxed lunch talking. Regardless- I ears it and I knew it was the right thing to do.
Hands were full of vendor goodie bags. purse and junk-I did what I could- I stuck my foot out to stop the door.
The door didn’t notice my foot until it was almost too late. (Downside to having small feet.) It bumped my blistered foot- then stopped and then opened for the women.
I winced from the blister bump as the mom and her friend got on the elevator- they smiled. They looked as tired as I did. “Thank you.” and “No problem” were about all that was said during that elevator ride.
The thing is…. they really were, thankful.
Everyone knows the only thing worse than waiting for an elevator at a crowded convention center when you’re exhausted- is waiting for the next one. (Slight melodrama… I know- cancer is worse- so is spinal surgery, being in a wheelchair and a thousand other things- but at that moment? Elevator waiting was pretty high on the list of awful things.)
I made it to my room and slept like a rock. The next day, I was refreshed and excited…(I was also caffeinated. Caffeine is a very good thing.) my bags felt lighter and my blisters felt better. (They were covered with neosporin and Hello Kitty bandaids – hw could they not?) I made my way to the general session.
Finding a seat- I looked to my left and there she was. The woman. In the wheel chair.
The one I’d almost closed the door on.
Everywhere I went that day- I saw her. In the bathroom, in workshops in the crowded hallway. She was a wheelchair ninja. Making her way through the whole convention center.
During the next general session, I was feeling kind of “woe is me.” (I may have been hormonal- or facing what seems like an insurmountable challenge…honestly? It’s been years and I can’t remember why. Funny how hormones and seemingly insurmountable issues can be like that.)
During worship, I rudely stared. She worshipped with abandon. She didn’t check her watch while raising her hands… she didn’t stare at a random stranger….she worshipped.
It challenged me. It encouraged me- to focus on the main thing. The main thing isn’t not liking a meal (or having to skip one to make it to a workshop) or having to wait in line for the bathroom. The main thing isn’t running out of in room coffee or a missing roll-away bed. The man thing isn’t how tired I am. Or how many elevators I have to wait through before I can get to my room.
The main thing is: loving God and loving others. In word- but even more- in action.
As worship continued- My ADD went wild: “What if I’d just let the door close on her? Well- I sure would have felt guilty every time I bumped into her, that’s just the mom in me. I don’t HAVE to do anything.” But the rationale was hollow- I knew that had I listened to myself- I would have missed out on the reminder to keep the main thing the main thing.
Loving God and loving others.
Even here. In a crazy busy convention center. Even when you think you are too exhausted, depleted or too needy to help someone else- often- you actually can.
It makes a difference.
I won’t say I’ve never been tempted to purposefully close an elevator door in someones face again… but, I definitley think hard before I do.
Today- maybe you have a chance to stick your foot in the door for someone else. It may not even have anything to do with an elevator. Maybe it’s giving a compliment to a co-worker in front of their boss, even though you’re exhausted from doing your own job. Maybe, it’s giving a cookie to a kid in the radio-oncology waiting room- when it would have been less painful to turn away from your biggest fear. (That a whole other article.) Or maybe it’s a thousand other things.
I challenge you (and myself) to step out of your comfort zone- and get a foot in the door for someone else….either at home- or at MOPS Convention- which is where I’ll be heading soon.
Matthew 24:44-25 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
It matters. So do shoes. The end. ;)