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Beloved Bonita

It’s not my norm to have conversations with call center folk (unlike some of us Villagers — Rod, Emily L…). Today however when I called to get through the red tape to get my new arthritis medication, I asked how her day was going. She said it was busy but good and I mused that it would be as long as people weren’t mean to her. She responded with a beautiful heart, telling me that she keeps in her mind the pain that people she knows have been in and are still in and that the process of getting medication is frustrating and difficult. She said, as she goes through her day, she remembers this and loves her job even when people are angry.

As one who has experienced missed medications due to that red tape and been frustrated, I thanked her and apologized for the anger that I had let out on others in such situations. She said she had just had a call with a woman who had complained of the @#!@#$@%@#$ process and mistakes and service. She mentioned I was very calm and kind and patient. I told her I was a pastor and she exclaimed, “That’s wonderful!” I shared my belief that Jesus wanted us to minister out of our pain and weakness, not raise our strength over others. She cried and told how much she believed that and how much it was a gift to hear it today. She was fasting (as she does every weekend) in prayer for her own pain (cancer) and for coworkers’ pain and others who are hurting around her and in the world. When we had finished ordering my medicine, I asked if I could pray anything for her or with her in her fasting. She offered some of these things and said she would pray for me as well.

Many who know me know that I don’t cry very often. It is a thing that has been taken from me through traumas in my life. Slowly, as I stumble alongside my crucified Savior, tears have begun to well up. If I’m lucky one will sometimes roll down my cheek. As I began to write about this experience, I began to sob. God has been redressing many of my wounds and scars this year through Healing Chair prayer, experiences on the Hot Seat, relationships in Community and with my husband, trauma therapy, new songs, old friends, and more things that I could name. This morning, I felt the Father reach through this woman’s tenderness and touch my eye, breaching the dam of sorrow so often unable to flow.

I did not catch her name due to her rich, Hispanic accent and my poor hearing. I believe she said, Anita. I will pray for her as Bonita (beautiful) in acknowledgment of the stark, Jesus-beauty she offered me in this mundane moment. I am humbled and I lay down my pride in my power to teach, counsel, understand, and all the things that make me a “good minister.” To those of you who consider others quietly, who serve in occupations where your value is taken for granted, who love with few words and many unnoticed actions, who support and encourage those of us who get more attention for the public nature of our gifts: I ask your forgiveness for the times I have failed to see and acknowledge all that you bring to me as we stumble together toward this New Kingdom, where we will know the intricate, organic system that is the Body of Christ.

I intend to spend more time with this writing, because I believe God has asked me to work more with my gift of writing. Before I make writing and grammar corrections, I give you my first draft. You are my people, I wanted you to hear the raw experience. I will post the future versions of this writing and invite you to challenge me on any changes that I make that strip bits of beauty of this experience. Thank you all for graciously walking with me on this journey.

Pastor Julie

3 Comments

  1. As someone who has been on both sides of this type of situation, I thank you for your honesty and willingness to share. I feel like there are so many levels to this story and it’s so cool to think of how you could have spoken with anyone else today – but you were given the chance to speak with Bonita. I wonder what God is up to here.

  2. This is a beautiful post. It is a great example of how connecting with people in their brokenness, seeing them, and being present with them can even restore/heal something in ourselves. What a special opportunity to share the love of God with someone. It makes me think… how many everyday opportunities have I missed? Or how many people have I overlooked? I feel challenged to be more present not only in the lives of my loved ones, but to the stranger at the grocery store, the sales representative, classmate, teacher, or bus driver.

    I hope you continue in your writing pursuits. I really enjoyed reading this post.

  3. Sweet, Bonita. Thanks for sharing.

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