After four, yes, four hours in the recovery room following my total knee replacement, I finally was wheeled into my room. It would have been so easy just to let the medication do its thing and lull me to sleep. But it was the noises coming from the other side of the curtain of my semi-private room that kept me awake. Heartfelt sobbing. Okay, now I have a choice, just ignore it and go to sleep, or say something. My tired body says to me, “Don’t say anything, Vicki! You need to rest. You need to be quiet.” I finally gave in and speak through the curtain, “Can I help you?” A young voice speaks back through the curtain. “I have no one to come and pick me up. I have no phone and no shoes. May I use your phone?” I say, “sure, can you come over here because I can’t get up”. And she does, this beautiful young girl. She sits on my bed, takes my phone, and for the next 20 minutes, calls everyone she can think of, including her mother, with no answer. She leaves panicked, screaming voice mail messages. No one picks up, no one returns her calls. Knowing I might regret this question, I ask, “what happened to you?” She tells me her story. Heartbreaking. She left her family in New York and moved to Charleston to be with a man 20 years older than her, who promised to marry her. Never happened.
The night before, he told her she was nothing more than a prostitute; kicked her out, and she ended up at a party and passed out. Not knowing what was wrong with her, her friends took her to the hospital and told the ER she had overdosed on heroin. She had not. The drug screening came back, only showing small amounts of cannabis. Her friends left her at the ER with no identification, no phone, and no shoes. She was being discharged with nowhere to go. I asked her if I could pray for her? She nods her head and lays down beside me on my bed, and I pray over her. So much for social distancing, right? She is so broken in her body and her spirit. She cries until she has no more energy or tears. After about an hour, someone finally returns her calls and says they will be there in 30 minutes to get her. She washes her face and thanks me. She is good to go now. I can see she is once again placing her hope in these same friends who left her at the hospital the night before. I hesitate. Maybe this is all I can do. Jesus said even if you do the smallest thing in My Name, you will be rewarded. Matthew 10:42. I quickly give her my card before she rushes out the door. I tell her about First Place for Health and another ministry, Celebrate Recovery. She listens, but I can tell she is anxious to get out the door.
In First Place for Health, we encourage reaching out to others with intentional acts of kindness to promote emotional wellness. It’s really not so hard to text a fellow FP4H friend with an encouraging word or prayer. But what about those outside of our groups? The messy people of the world? It is so much easier and less of a risk just to stay safely behind the curtains we put up. Compassion can be hard and can be costly. And sometimes, unappreciated. As you look around at the circumstances in which you find yourself, you may hear a cry for help that may not be easily ignored. It might be costly. You may have to push the curtain aside and meet the hurting face to face. Our world is broken. People can be judgmental, harsh, and deaf toward those who are diseased, addicted, or find themselves in difficult circumstances. The only real help and only true healing comes from the One who understands costly, who paid the supreme price, the One who tore the curtain, our Savior Jesus Christ. I know my prayer was not wasted on my new friend, not because of me but because of My God who hears our prayers and has come to set the captives free and to bind up the brokenhearted. I don’t know if my new friend will ever reach out to me, maybe, maybe not. If not, I have the phone numbers of three of her friends on my phone. I finally drifted off to sleep to be woken up by the nurse admitting a new patient in the bed next to me. I asked the nurse, “do you think this one will be okay?” The nurse replied, “no problem there. She is passed out drunk!” Thank you, Jesus, for moving the curtain in my life.
Vicki Heath is the National Director of First Place for Health. Vicki is a certified fitness instructor for the American Council on Exercise, a certified life coach and Wellness Coordinator for her church in Edisto Beach, SC. Vicki is an author of the books Don’t Quit Get Fit, Wellness Journey of a Lifetime and My First Place. She strives to bring others into the Kingdom through health and wellness.