On the morning of the surgeries we waited in the “Family Waiting Room” for updates from the OR. Many kept their vigil with us. The instant the phone rang all conversations eerily ceased. A number was called, and a family member would jump to the phone. Though only one person in the room could hear the call, every ear bent, and eye gazed – as tactfully as possible – in an effort to discern the nature of the update.
No one wanted to be there but in an unexpected way it was a moving experience. Strangers silently cheered for other strangers, people they would never see again. I liked that. But I also liked leaving that place.
When we graduated to the 11th floor there, too, was a “Family Waiting Room.” Oft-cluttered with white sheets and bags of personal belongs, it was a well used camping spot for those who cared most. I walked by this room over and over and over.
Why a “Family Waiting Room” and not just a “Waiting Room”? After all, “non family” waited with us, and surely “non family” frequent these alcoves for the concerned.
I think these are “Family Waiting Rooms” because despite the reality that our culture seems to be altering much about “family,” in our hearts we still know that there is something unique about “family.”
The name “family” on these rooms seems to confirm (minimally) the expectation that 1) family show up and 2) family perseveres when there are a host of reasons one shouldn’t. They wait.
There is something very powerful in showing up. These days you can show up in person. You can show up on line. You can show up via text, email, Skype, YouTube — you name it. Family shows up.
And there is something quite powerful when someone perseveres when there are plenty of reasons to bail. It’s the irrational stick-to-it-ness, the camping on the maroon sofas, that says Family.
Christians have a unique take on this, for when they come to Christ, they are added to a new family, the family of those who are in Christ. Family now transcends DNA.
And where do these family members learn how to do family? From their Father.
1. God showed up. He didn’t send memos from on high. He became flesh and blood in his Son and showed up.
2. God perseveres with us when there are a ton of reasons he shouldn’t.
Sometimes in life things happen that we don’t understand. They are too big. We can’t get our arms around it, or even part of it. We are overwhelmed. It happens, and we cannot flee. Despite our most sincere and devoted efforts we can not find an “easy button.”
In the midst of “I don’t get this” and “I don’t know what to do” and “I’m scared” we all need someone to 1) show up and 2) persevere with us when there are good reasons not to.
We need family.
And most of all, we need the God who created family, from whom every family in heaven and earth derives its name, the God who
1) shows up, and 2) perseveres with us when there are a zillion reasons he shouldn’t.