Jesus In Every Moment A blog by Emily Furda

Finding Jesus in a Pittsburgh Parking Garage

Have you ever had someone show Jesus to you in the oddest of places? One of my favorite memories is when someone showed Jesus to me in a parking garage. I call her “Sweetie,” and she showed me I mattered.

This particular fall day in 2012 I had an 8AM doctor’s appointment in Pittsburgh. I’m not a morning person. (This post explains more about my disdain for mornings: How Do You Wake Up? ) That meant a very early morning wake up for an almost 3-hour drive with rush hour traffic. (Thankfully there was a Starbucks on the way, Café Mocha with raspberry added please!) I’m so thankful my mother was driving. It takes a certain mental toughness to drive in Pittsburgh. It’s not so much the amount of traffic as it is the layout. The city is surrounded by large hills, so that means no matter how you enter the city, it likely involves a tunnel. Pittsburgh is also built around three rivers. The Allegheny River and Monongahela River meet and form the Ohio River. That means bridges, lots of bridges which leads to some unusual traffic patterns. It’s worse than a game of Mario Kart when you need to switch lanes with little warning. Sometimes you get the exit, other times you’re headed for the airport on the far western side of town when you wanted to go downtown.

This particular doctor’s office was in one of the large hospitals in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, also home to the University of Pittsburg. Crossing the street is like a game of Frogger. The appointment did not go well, and as soon as we left I had to call another department to set up a spot test for glue before they scheduled a test. I was hoping to not have to make a separate trip back to Pittsburgh, but I wasn’t guaranteed that. My mom and I decided to go visit my favorite spot in Pittsburgh, The National Aviary while we waited. I figured getting nose to beak with some penguins (my favorite animal) would give me a little pick me up.

I should probably mention my footwear for the day. I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Hypermobility Type. The short version is collagen holds our joints together like superglue. My collagen is more like a preschooler’s glue stick, minus the glitter. In the summer I sprained both ankles, so there I was with big black walking boots on both feet. (At least I matched!) I also gained a lovely accessory in the form of silver crutches.

After a half an hour and 4 wrong turns, we finally made it to the Aviary, where the parking lot closest to the doors was under construction. That started the long trek down a winding path on an unusually hot day. We made it as far as the picnic tables outside of the aviary. (At least we got to see the condors outside.) It was clear I was in too much pain to walk around the aviary, so it was another long trek back to the car. I felt defeated. Then the hospital called and wanted me back immediately. Twenty minutes later with only two wrong turns and we were there. I wasn’t looking forward to walking the labyrinth of this hospital. I had made it a habit years ago to intentionally look for the good in any situation, but finding good that day was getting hard.

Then we met “Sweetie.” I actually never caught her name, but that’s what I nicknamed her. This particular parking area has valet parking. The entry is directly under a walkway so it’s dark even on the sunniest of days, and you could smell the hot asphalt. The real trick is getting in and out of your car because in that place traffic flows similar to a NASCAR pit stop. I was dreading all the glares I’d get as I held up traffic hopping across the lane into the hospital. Then, Sweetie took over. She was about 5’2,” moving as quickly as everyone else, but she had a smile from ear to ear and somehow made the hectic parking area and scary hospital peaceful. I call her “Sweetie” because that’s what she called everyone. Sometimes that can be annoying, but from her, it flowed from the sweetness in her heart. She was a living example of this verse:

Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. Proverbs 16:26 (NLT)

First she saw me trying to get out of the car. That tiny woman had a huge heart and the ability to command any situation. She made sure I wasn’t going to turn into road kill. Then she saw the receipt from the other parking garage earlier in our car. She told us it was just wrong for us to have to pay twice since we were just across the street from our original stop. By then I broke down in tears. It wasn’t about the money; it was her sweet kindness. Right there in that crazy place, I felt peace.

Just as we suspected I would, I had an allergic reaction. So now I was itchy, tired, and in pain. I’m not sure who decided I needed chocolate milk and graham crackers before we left, but I was grateful. They weren’t the best graham crackers ever, but they were good, and chocolate milk makes anything better.

When we finally made it outside to go get the car, there was Sweetie, singing “Amazing Grace” at the top of her lungs, each line interrupted as she directed people with the skill of a symphony conductor. Right there, she was a shining example of showing Jesus. She took one look at me and her eyes filled with even more compassion. She took care of everything I needed. The sweet sound of “Amazing Grace” filled that place. That was A Jesus Moment for me, a moment where through her, God showed me He loved me. She knew I had a rough day, and while she couldn’t change what happened medically, she could care and make at least one part of my day better. She changed my entire day. I knew God saw me. I wasn’t hidden to Him. I needed Sweetie’s sweet words and compassion that day. She nourished my soul.

I have two challenges for you this week. (I’ve been slacking on challenges lately, so it’s double this week.) First, keep your eyes open for your own “Sweetie this week” Often we miss out on moments where God is showing us His love because we aren’t looking for them.

Second, find one way you can be a “Sweetie” to someone else; give someone A Jesus Moment. We often think we have to do something big, but we don’t. Holding a door, sending an encouraging text, letting someone go ahead of you in line at the store, giving a genuine compliment, or going out of your way to thank someone are just a few ways you can show Jesus to someone. They’re also ways God is showing you He loves. He often uses other people to show you who He is.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 (NIV)

When we stop to recognize small good gifts, it fills our lives with joy, no matter what hard things we’re facing. Jesus is always there waiting to show you just how much He cares. You may even find Him in a parking garage if you look hard enough.

Emily Furda

Please leave a comment! Did you have A Jesus Moment or did you give someone else A Jesus Moment?

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2 thoughts on “Finding Jesus in a Pittsburgh Parking Garage

  1. lynnjsimpson says:

    Wow! What a beautiful story. She really is doing God’s work right where she is. I am humbled. She’s mentored me through you sharing your story. Thank you! I only know Pittsburgh from a television camera’s scan of the outside of the hockey arena (as I was a big Canadian fan of NHL’er Sydney Crosby of the Penguins) You’ve also given me more of a view of your the city today, expanding my world. Thank you!


    • Emily Furda says:

      Oh Thank You Lynn!

      I will never forget her. I’m a huge Pittsburgh Penguins fan. I’m about 100 miles east of Pittsburgh, it’s the closest major city to me. Some of the bridges are just beautiful, as long as you’re the passenger. I was excited to find a photo of the 3 rivers meeting for this post. It’s a pretty city.

      Blessings to you!


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