All day long, I waited for the Volkswagen Dealership to call me. I’d brought my car in at 8 and it was supposed to be ready by noon, but of course, noon became 1 o’clock and 1 o’clock became 3. The problem was nothing major: The front passenger car door wouldn’t open from the outside. It was covered under warranty, so it didn’t even cost me anything to fix. It was just a hassle.
At 4, my car still wasn’t ready and my co-worker–who had graciously played chauffeur to me the whole day–had to go home, so she dropped me off and I joined the other VW owners sitting on black vinyl chairs and cradling styrofoam cups in their hands.
The waiting room TV was set to ABC and the news was on. I hadn’t watched any of the tsunami coverage on TV until then. Seeing the top stories on the web–and watching the death toll rise several times a day–was devastating enough. Seeing the survivors and hearing their stories on the television, well, that left me completely dumbfounded.
“This is so awful,” I sighed, to nobody in particular.
The girl beside me answered: “I know.”
She looked my age or younger. Her skin was flawless and her lips shone. She had a kind face, one you’d expect on a nurse, or a teacher, or an angel.
I continued, “It makes me feel like my car troubles are nothing at all, you know? Some of those people have lost their homes and family members. I just can’t fathom that.”
“Yeah. It puts everything into perspective.”
We traded stories about our cars as if they were our children then fell back into silence, staring at the screen. A few minutes later, her name was called and she started to gather her things. Then she turned to me.
“May I read you something before I go?”
She reached into her purse and pulled out a little black book. “It’s my favorite passage in the Bible. It always brings me comfort.”
My heart sank. I knew where this was going. In college, I was the target of a dozen or so evangelical Christians. Maybe I looked like I needed saving, or maybe I just looked like I’d listen–I’m not sure. All I know is I started to resent those students who were constantly invading my space and privacy. I didn’t like being quizzed, questioned, schooled, or worse, condemned.
I started to prepare my best comeback, a polite but firm “please go away” speech, as the girl found the page. She read the passage to me, quietly and calmly, following the words with her finger.
“Maybe you’ve heard it before,” she said, “but I like it because it reminds me that this world is bigger than our comprehension and God is always with us.”
I had heard it before, and it was comforting.
The girl closed the Bible and slipped it back in her bag, then got up to go just like she said she would. She didn’t want to prove anything to me or expect something in return. She just wanted to give me some hope and faith. It was a gentle gesture.
I sat on that black vinyl chair, looked up at the TV and clutched my bag closer to my lap. It was all I could do not to cry.