Working in the presence of disease and brokenness can be very draining. All day I walk through rooms of people struggling with depression, anxiety, heart failure, abuse, addiction. This brokenness and disease can feel contagious. It's like a walk in the woods. You're walking through admiring the trees and sunshine when you look down and a hundred burs are attached to your pants, coat, and shoelaces. Where did all that come from? How is it sticking to me? It's going to take forever to get it off!
I feel like that today. Being in the presence of so much brokenness and disease has rubbed off on me. I'm tired, cynical, and tearful. It can feel overwhelming and hopeless. All day we try to stamp out disease from our department and the next day it fills right back up again.
In my work I try to communicate hope, love, and honesty. It can be so hard and it can feel so lonely. Is there hope? Is anybody else in this struggle with me? Trying to make a lasting difference to the patients we see and even the healthcare system we work in can seem daunting and hopeless. Brene Brown refers to this as 'braving the wilderness'. It is entering somewhere that is frightening, wild, and we often feel alone.
But we aren't alone. This is where reflection and attention to the roots of faith is a critical practice. Taking time to return to what is our purpose and the hope that gives us vision for change is essential. What is grounding for you? As they say in yoga practice, set an intention. What is your purpose? My reflection comes back to the hope of Jesus. He said that His sacrifice would bring a new life and a new world. He showed us that sacrifice and forgiveness were stronger than selfish pursuit and angry vengeance. Compassion and love were the tools of the new way. But it turns out it's not an easy way. He died. But the hope of a new world was born in that death and resurrection.
Working to bring change and to usher in a new world is a lonely struggle. It is a land of sojourn. It is a place we travel temporarily. I recently attended the funeral of a coworker's daughter. She was younger than I am when she suddenly passed. I was reminded that the struggles of this life are real but fleeting. We journey through this broken world for a time and then we go. What do we do with the time we travel in this wilderness? When we wander through the halls of the ER and the endless patient rooms, what we do matters but it is temporary. It is a temporary journey but it can bring so much good. Stay rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17).
“Joseph Campbell wrote, “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”
― Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone