Last week, I was working out in the cruise boat gym. I stepped onto an elliptical machine and was thoroughly looking forward to enjoying a quiet hour of basking in the beauty that surrounded me. I love the size of the land in Alaska, how it rolls on and on, untamed and for the most part, untouched. Shortly after I started exercising, a young woman (about 30 years old) came into the gym, climbed onto the treadmill beside me, dialed a number on her cell phone and started talking.
For the next hour, this woman complained to whoever she was talking to on the phone…and I mean, non-stop complaining. She criticized her husband, kicked up a fuss about the elliptical machine, whined about her shower in her stateroom, bemoaned about the lunch she had just consumed, refuted the amount of money that she was charged at the bar, disapproved of her sister’s boyfriend, accused the steward of taking a ring out of her cupboard, gossiped about her co-workers, groaned about how loud the movie was playing the night before and beefed about the hardness of her bed. I listened to this woman the entire time.
I went back to our room and told Chris about my experience. I felt deeply saddened and it affected me for the next couple of hours. Most of all, I regretted having not said something to this woman. She was lost and I missed the opportunity to share the hope that I know. I was not moved with compassion – I was overwhelmed with disbelief. This woman was looking out onto God’s magnificent handiwork and yet, she chose to yammer on the phone for an hour about all that was wrong in her life.
Scott Hamilton once said, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” Here was a disabled woman. She had lost perspective. She was surrounded in beauty but she was blinded by displeasure. I wish I could go back to that gym and lovingly say to her, “Look upward…look outward. Lift your eyes and see beyond yourself. There is Someone who loves you and offers you abundant life.”
This morning, Chris and I spent a couple of hours in Butchart Gardens, which is in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Here was a place of beauty and tranquility…
…and once again, I was reminded of the treadmill woman…
…and once again, I prayed for her.
I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. Psalm 123.1 NIV