Vain about Veins
Vain about Veins|
I was exhausted and camping is hard on the feet. My plan was to get a pedicure. I wanted to relax with my feet in hot water, sit back in a vibrating chair, and read a good book while someone massaged my feet and painted my toenails.
I need a break, I’d explained to God. I need to be pampered. God apparently didn’t agree.
Twenty-one year old Tanya had long straight dark hair, beautiful almond shaped eyes, and when she sat down to give my pedicure, she folded her long perfect legs under her on the stool. Tanya pointed to one of my varicose veins and asked, “Why do they stay blue like that?”
It took a moment to realize what she meant. Many thoughts ran through my mind. Did she just ask that? Are we really going to discuss my varicose veins? Doesn’t she know we’re supposed to pretend they’re not there? Am I really going to sit her and let this child with perfect legs examine my legs?
I had about 2 seconds to decide upon my response. I teetered between being insulted or being amused. She had asked so innocently and had such a sweet smile, that I chose to be amused. “Those are called varicose veins. I’m not a medical person but it has something to do with poorly functioning valves and blood collecting in the veins. They usually get worse as you get older.”
“Is it bad? Do they hurt? Don’t you need those veins?” she asked worriedly.
“Some people say their's ache. Mine don’t. As far as I know, they’re usually harmless. Why do you ask?”
“I was reading a book on skin cancer. I have lots of moles so I started looking at the moles on my legs. I found this.” Tanya was wearing very short shorts and bent her perfect leg around like a pretzel to reveal a tiny blue vein. “Will this ever go away?” she asked.
I laughed and showed Tanya the large road map behind my knee. “I was in 8th grade when I found a tiny blue mark on my leg. Over the years, it’s progressed to the interesting pattern you see before you. You didn’t get your first one until you were 21 so you’re ahead of me. Unfortunately, Tanya, your vein is going to get worse. You can have it removed if it really bothers you. If they hurt, some insurance policies will even pay for them to be removed. You really should ask your doctor.”
“Broken veins are terrible. Why does this have to happen?”
Tanya was charming and I laughed aloud. “I think of it as part of growing up. Kind of like getting new teeth. I’m a Christian and I don’t really mind aging because it puts me that much closer to an eternity with God.” I assumed she was Buddhist. While she was born in the United States, her parents were from Viet Nam.
“I have a lot of respect for Christians. My girlfriend was one. We used to argue about it.” Her next comment threw me. “I’m Catholic, not Christian.”
“Really,” I said. “I had guessed Buddhist.”
“A lot of people from Viet Nam are Catholic. In Viet Nam, you’re either Buddhist, nothing, or Catholic. My family is very Catholic and always has been. My boyfriend and I went to church every Sunday before we moved here. We haven’t been since we got here.”
I decided to continue Tanya’s education. “Tanya, Catholics are part of Christianity. I suspect the girlfriend you argued with was a Protestant but both Protestants and Catholics are Christians. Being a Christian means you believe in Jesus Christ, have confessed your sins, and have asked Him to be a part of your life.”
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; NASU
“I did that when I was a child,” she said. “I believe in Jesus.”
“Then I hate to tell you this but you’re what I call a Christian.”
“My friend believed different stuff than I did,” she argued. “I don’t think she thought I was a Christian.”
I laughed again. “I’m a Protestant. When I was in junior high, I had a debate with my Catholic friends. I actually called my preacher for ammunition to fuel my point of view and they called their priest. Different religions have different ways of interpreting the Bible. I guess God will tell us who’s right when we get to heaven. I’ve found that true Christians all have a common belief in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible, regardless of their religion or denomination. Don’t you miss going to church?” I said, abruptly changing the subject.
“I haven’t stopped going. I just haven’t gone since I moved here. We’re going back,” she said defensively. She’d had this conversation before. I looked down at my toes and realized that Tanya hadn’t missed a beat while she was talking to me.
“Is this the color you chose?” she asked, lifting a bottle of nail polish.
I nodded and asked, “Is your boyfriend willing to go to church with you?”
“Oh yes, he went with me back home. He likes church too.”
“I wonder what’s different here and why you aren’t going to church now. Have you moved in with your boyfriend?”
She stared down at the floor and said quietly, “Yes.”
Thank you God, I thought. “Aha,” I said. “Maybe that’s why you stopped going. I wonder what your church would say about you living with your boyfriend?”
“They probably wouldn’t like it very much,” she said still staring at the floor. Her pace on my feet had slowed down. Her guilt was obviously weighing on her.
“What do your parents say about it?”
“They don’t like it but they’ve gotten used to it,” she mumbled.
“Well, you’re 21 and responsible for making your own decisions. How long have you gone out with this guy?”
“Is he a good guy? Is he marriageable material?”
“He’s good sometimes.”
“What does he do when he isn’t good?” I probed.
“Well,” she said thoughtfully. “I have to do everything. I pay the bills, clean the house, cook, and wash his clothes. He doesn’t believe in giving gifts for holidays or anniversaries because he says I’m supposed to know he cares about me every day.”
One of her male co-workers from across the room spoke up and said, “He’s a bum.”
She went to laughing. “He doesn’t even know him,” she said defensively. “My boyfriend really is a nice guy.”
“Does he work? Does he help pay the bills?”
“Of course. He’s working two jobs. He was in college but he decided to drop out to help his little brother go to college.”
“Does he fix things around the house? Does he work on your car?”
“I don’t know anything about cars so he does all the car stuff. He also doesn’t drink or gamble.”
“What do your parents think about him?” I asked.
“They liked my last boyfriend better,” she answered.
“How long did you go out with your last boyfriend?”
“Three years. I’ve only had 2 boyfriends in my life.”
“Why aren’t you still with your first boyfriend?” I asked. “What changed your mind about him?”
At this point, she turned pale. It took her a moment to answer. When she did answer, she whispered so low that I almost couldn’t hear her. “He passed away.”
“Oh Tanya, I’m so sorry. Was it sudden?”
She nodded. “Something terrible happened. I was there and saw it. If it hadn’t have been for my current boyfriend, I wouldn’t have made it. He was there too when it happened so he knew what I was going through. He started helping me. He just listened and let me cry. He was so tender. Eventually, we ended up together. So you see, he really is a good guy. He saved my life.”
“It sounds like it,” I affirmed. “Was your first boyfriend a Christian?”
“He grew up Catholic and we used to go to church together. He believed in Jesus and loved the church.” She still wasn’t willing to call that Christian.
“If he was a Christian, then he’s with God,” I said gently. “Remember what I said a Christian was.”
“I worry about that. I wasn’t sure for a long time. For a year, I couldn’t sleep. I kept worrying about where he was. Now I think he’s in heaven so I feel a little better.”
“Tanya, one of those religious differences that I mentioned earlier is that some churches teach there are circumstances that can cause a Christian not to get into heaven. I’m a student of the Bible and I believe the Bible is clear about this. It says all we have to do to go to heaven is to accept Jesus Christ as our savior. God loved the world so much that He gave His only son so that who ever believed in Him wouldn’t die, but would have everlasting life in heaven. If your former boyfriend believed in Jesus Christ, he is in heaven. Were you worried that he didn’t get last rites or go to confession?”
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. NASU
“That and some other things,” she said evasively. I didn’t push. While she didn’t share the circumstances of his death, it was obvious they still haunted her.
“Have you discussed this with your priest?”
“I did. I asked him if my boyfriend was in heaven. The priest asked what I believed in my heart. I told him that I believed he was in heaven. The priest said that meant he was in heaven and that I should stop worrying about it.”
“Tanya, listen to your priest. God is speaking to your heart about your former boyfriend. It sounds to me like your church gives you the comfort that you need. I suspect that your guilt about living with your current boyfriend is why you’ve stopped going to church. Please, go back to church and listen to what God tells you to do.” Tanya was literally sitting at my feet, looking up at my face, and absorbing every word. The pedicure had completely stopped.
She took a deep breath and began painting again. I sensed that she needed to think this over and didn’t talk further. I have no idea if she ever massaged my feet and I realized the vibrating chair wasn’t even turned on.
God, you really must have a sense of humor to use my veins for your work. I have always been self conscious about my veins but now, I have an entirely new attitude about them. I guess God using my veins is a great example of Romans 8:28. Maybe I’ll get that foot massage in heaven.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. NASU