We sit on my back porch talking about our shared love for the way the liquid amber leaves are just starting to change colors while sipping coffee. I’ve learned to only pour her half a mug. “My husband and I used to share just one cup,” she told me once.
My neighbor is more than twice my age. She’s also one of the most wonderfully unexpected new friends I’ve had in a long time. Conversation flows easy. We talk about the weather and art and the places she’s traveled. I tell her the funny thing my nine-year-old said. She’s mindful that I have a full workday ahead, but I never feel anxious or rushed when we’re spending time together.
As our back porch date winds down, I ask what she has going on the rest of the day.
“Oh, I have to try to figure out this issue with my insurance company and write a letter. I think I’ll ask my niece to help me.”
Her husband passed away a year ago, and their health insurance company has continued to automatically deduct his monthly premium, she explained.
“Well, I would be more than happy to help you with that,” I reply. “I actually have a lot of experience dealing with insurance companies.”
She says that is kind, but she’ll ask me next week when I’m not busy over the holiday weekend. I tell her I’m not busy. My new friend is wildly capable and very independent. I also know, that, like all of us, she is not meant to do life alone.
A couple of days later I pick up the phone and ask if tomorrow afternoon would be a good time for me to come over and help her write the letter. The next day, I carry my laptop across the street and sit on my neighbor’s tweed couch. We read through her notes from when she spoke to the insurance company. I ask for all her pertinent information and quickly type out a letter with all the requirements needed to request a refund and stop future payments. I read it aloud.
“What do you think?” I ask.
“It’s perfect!” she says. Then, “I’ve been losing sleep over this for months. Thank you so much.”
And on an ordinary fall afternoon, I knew again that a decade of questioning and discomfort was worth it. You see, for more than ten years I worked in medical billing. I was thankful for the flexibility of working from home and the paycheck to help my family. But that job was not my joy. For years I sat at my dining room table typing in charges and payments, aching for work that felt more meaningful, that used my true gifts, and developed my passions. For years, I prayed for a new season, for different work. And for years, God simply said, Wait.
Now that I am in a season of doing work that I absolutely love here at (in)courage and as an author and speaker, it’s easy to see the past through rosier glasses. But in the moment? Week after week, year after year, of waiting and longing and believing I was created for more and yet more never seemed to come? It wasn’t easy. It was stretching and painful.
And this is why I need to pause today to preach again to my own heart a truth that perhaps you need to hear too: God wastes nothing.
As Paul says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
All things. Our hard seasons, long waits, and unwanted circumstances are not out of God’s reach. He can and will use it all — even if it takes years to see it.
I had the confidence to offer to help my neighbor with this particular task because I had years of experience working with medical insurance companies. This skill set and knowledge base have also served me well in helping my own family navigate confusing billing and coverage issues. And I’m trusting God that even as I’m deeply grateful for the fact that my current daily work has nothing to do with authorizations and deductibles, He will continue to use the fullness of the experiences He’s given me to show His love and care to me and others.
Which makes me wonder: Is there something in your life today or in a past season that seems like a waste? A circumstance you’re prone to wish away? What if, instead, you leaned in? What if God is ready and waiting to use the very thing you want to escape as a gateway to a deeper connection for you and someone in your life?
We get to experience and express the kindness of God when we trust Him to use every part of our experiences.
Also? It’s been a couple of months since I wrote that letter. My neighbor got her insurance refund last week.