Shelf Life

           But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.     Heb. 13:16

            I walked into the “Family Room.”  Centrally placed on the Floor surrounded on all sides by the Pediatric Critical Care Unit, Intensive Care Unit and General Unit, it smelled of antiseptic mixed with take-out.

Over the last several days I had grown very thankful for the free coffee supplied in the family room.  Starbucks? No.   Coffee nonetheless though that was readily accessible greeting me each morning and helping me get through many difficult nights.

As I approached the automatic coffee machine I was surprised to see so many people in the room at such an early hour.  One man sat, with his head in his hands at the end of the too short couch covered in germ resistant plastic.  A woman, his wife I assumed, lay all scrunched up with her head in his lap.  Each of them sporting the Visitor tag from the Emergency room that I recognized all too easily.  They had had a rough night. It hadn’t been too long ago that I had experienced a night like that.

When I walked into the room he made eye contact with me.  I smiled and while his head nodded in response his lips turned upward slightly.  His exhaustion was evident…he was just too tired to smile back.

I could feel his eyes as I approached the coffee machine seeking its hot comfort within.  When I requested, by pressing upon the required lever with my cup, I was dismayed by its lack of response.  I turned around to meet his eyes.  He had known there was no coffee…and he had been watching me go through the process of figuring it out for myself.  “There’s no coffee?!”  I asked, as much shocked as sympathetic.  With eyebrows raised he shared his own disappointment while despondently shaking his head no.

I turned, frustrated that this little comfort had been neglected for people who so desperately needed a little comfort.  Something so small that had grown to mean so much.  I did an about face planning to head downstairs to purchase some coffee from a vendor.  As my hand reached the door handle, I paused.  I turned back around to the man, elbows resting on knees to support his head which he had placed back into his hands.  I walked closer to speak in a softer voice as to not disturb his still sleeping wife.  “I’m going downstairs to grab some coffee…would you like some?”  From his pocket he quickly offered a  $20.00 bill.  “Just a cup for my wife would be great…thank you so much.”  Finally a smile broke through.  In his “thank you” I could hear appreciation that surpassed that which would normally be offered for a cup of coffee.  It was appreciation for an unexpected act of kindness, by a stranger.

I marched downstairs on a mission.  In a very small way I had an opportunity to bring comfort and kindness to someone who was at a place I had been a very short time ago.  For the first time in weeks my heart felt joyful as I prepared the coffee as requested.  At a point when I was feeling pretty out of control and powerless in my own life I felt empowered by this simple act of kindness to someone else.

Does life have you at  a place where you feel set on a shelf?  Perhaps your normal ways of  living and giving are not feasible at this time.  It may be difficult,  but I encourage you to continue to offer others “life” in some form even as you sit on the shelf.  For when you offer life to others through love, kindness and compassion, you bring life to yourself.

Father, help me be a vessel through which you pour life into others. 



Filed under friendship, The Body of Christ

2 responses to “Shelf Life

  1. Noree Bowbeer

    Tanya, This soooo ministered to my heart today. As I continue traveling down the road of recovery, I have experienced much sadness with not being able to participate in activities that were so much a part of my life. Frustration also with the brain function hovering on this current plateau and hearing some of the medical team share ‘this may be as good as it gets’. Bless you for being His servant and sharing this message … something I needed to hear. Hugs, Noree

  2. There is so much truth in this. Shelf life can feel stagnant and draining but your challenge is to thrive and grow even when standing still, through service to others. Thank you for this picture.,

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