The last couple weeks have been full of making plans with friends and those friends backing out. Or my friends just forget that we even made plans. That leaves one feeling quite worthless. Sure, I understand if something comes up or if a friend gets sick, but it happened twice last weekend and twice more today; four times with four different friends. I'm starting to wonder, "Do I smell? laugh too loud? make uncomfortable or awkward comments?"
Today I went to see the doctor to take care of this silly digestive problem that's left me feeling tired, discouraged, and lifeless. After my appointment, I was at the check-out counter, paying the bill (which only cost $7, by the way), when I heard, "Angela?!" Immediate dread. I was wearing sweat pants for goodness sake! I looked over to see stout little Josephine approaching to chat my ear off (her name has been changed for.. reasons). She explained that she and her sister got in a car accident three weeks prior and have been in the hospital ever since. I forced out some sympathy and an, "I'm so sorry! Are you okay?" and somehow gave in to her suggestion to go see her sister, whom I met once for about three minutes over a year ago, up on the 8th floor.
Josephine introduced herself to me at church during my first week in Korea. She's Korean and flocks to any foreigner with light hair, light eyes, and that comes from an English-speaking country, so during my first visit at our church I was a direct hit. She managed to get my name, email address, phone number, and even a picture of me on her phone. Josephine is very friendly and outgoing but overbearing sometimes, socially awkward, and constantly bad-breathed. On more than one occasion, while conversing, she's managed to accidentally and unnoticeably spit on my face. So one can imagine that after a doctor appointment in which I walked out with a cloth between my butt cheeks (that's not a pun), the last thing on my wish list was to see this person.
Upon arriving at the 8th floor, Josephine embarrassed me, showing me off, her "U.S.A. friend," to the nurses in the waiting area. I just wanted to go home, but I still went in to see her sister. She took a couple photos of me on her phone and gave me a peach juice which made me more aggravated because it was super delicious. After a long 5-minute visit, Josephine escorted me back down the first floor. As she walked me out the revolving doors and relief overtook me that the visit was over, Josephine said, "I was SO happy to see you here! I have been feeling really down and sad about being stuck in the hospital, and my sister has been feeling really sad, too, but it helped so much to see you!"
I couldn't believe her words. When I was feeling pitiful because all my friends were canceling our plans, someone with whom I've been so fake and have never given a second thought considers my friendship worthwhile. How hard-hearted am I? How far has pride gone into me, like poison, that I feel the need to defend myself or keep my distance from people like her? As I look into my heart, I can't help but look at my relationship with the Savior. This is exactly how I've been treating Jesus and his Word.
God, I confess my unforgiveness toward people around whom I feel uncomfortable. I repent of my self-preservation, pride, offense, self pity. I repent of neglecting your heart and my broken promises. I ask for your forgiveness. You are always faithful and always merciful. I am only human, but you are God. I want to connect with your heart, to see what you see and feel what you feel. I want to love others with the same love you have for me. I want to love Jesus with the same love you have for him. Jesus, you never held back when someone reached out to you. Even in my weakness, my awkwardness, even after I've spat in your face and rejected you, you still receive me. You accept me just as I am. And you invite me to your table, to look fully at your face, to touch your heart. You are alive. Please change me to be more like you. Amen.