When I was a little girl, around the age of eight, I got a scooter and jogging suits for Christmas. I was going through what my mother always called “a phase” anytime my sisters and I followed new trends. She never stressed the small stuff and would say, “it’s just a phase” and she was usually right. My jogging suit phase, however, lasted a little longer than planned, according to pictures, and likely foreshadowed my career of choice, where I basically wear professional pajamas, aka scrubs, all day, every day.
Once upon a time, I wore “street clothes” to work…cute professional dress pants, trendy tops/jackets and, most of all, cute shoes…but that was a simpler time, you know, before the world went insane, or as some people like to say…pre-pandemic. Now, I kinda want to limit what I bring in and out of the hospital, if you know what I mean, so scrubs it is. I’ll just stick to cute earrings because, honestly, even the thought of hard pants with buttons and uncomfortable shoes makes me cringe…I’ll never be the same.
I’ll never be the same. Those words are the most true and honest statement I can think to describe what I’ve seen and experienced over the past year and a half. In all my years in medicine, I never really thought much about what it would be like to survive a pandemic as a healthcare provider, and all I can think to say right now is, I’ll never be the same.
The lessons I’ve learned over the past year have changed me forever in ways that can’t possibly be unpacked in one blog post, but one thing I’m learning is that times like this should create change, right? I’m not sure that you can or you should walk through tough seasons without a shift. Now, I’m not talking about national, political or social change, though we are facing such times. I’m talking about deep, personal change that shapes who you are.
The shift in itself is non-negotiable, right? When times get tough, the tough, well, we change. Change may just be the by-product of adversity, it’s kind-of inevitable. And, my friends we have all changed through this trying time, but my fear is that it has not been for the better.
History will judge us, as it always does, and I’m afraid it will not be kind. I could provide examples, like adults throwing punches at school board meetings, but you get it, right? You’re living it too. You feel the division, the strife…you know deep down that it’s not okay. We have not changed for the betterment of society, our neighbors or ourselves, we have changed for the betterment of our agenda, whatever that may be. And, I for one have been left, like many of you, completely heartbroken.
Now, that is not to say that I’m innocent in this whole deal. I haven’t always handled it well, when someone slides into my DM’s or gets in my face to let me know their opinions of my political and pandemic decisions. I’ve snapped back a few times, I’ll admit, when I’ve felt misunderstood and mislabeled. But, it never leaves me feeling better, only more heart broken. Confirming the notion that hurting people, hurt people.
So, what do we do, where do we go. That’s a real question that I’ve asked myself over and over the past few months. Where do we go from here?
Now, I could give you a lesson in positivity and there is something to be said for that, but in all honesty, I think we need something much deeper. We’re fighting a battle, and since I’ve always been a straight shooter, I’ll just go ahead and let you know that it’s uphill and not for the faint of heart. It requires discipline and attention. It requires selflessness and sacrifice. It requires more understanding and less opinions. It’s more than just learning a good lesson, it’s living what you’ve learned. What this will require of you and of me is love…
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, love your neighbor probably feels like a broken record, but as I sit here in my evening comfy clothes, aka pajamas, that’s all I’ve got. I don’t have a perfect picture of sunshine and rainbows to give you because that’s not what we’re living right now; but what I do have is a solution…love one another.
And if, you, like me, are a Jesus follower, this is not optional. I’ve danced around my thoughts in prior blogs regarding how Christians should treat their neighbors, but y’all as I sit here on the eve of my 41st birthday, I’m too old to leave this vague…just before Jesus was crucified he gave a new command, “Love one another”, but wait, there’s more, “Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another” (John 13:34). Whoa, that brings a little weight, right? When you consider that Jesus, the son of God, displayed his love for you and for me on a cross by laying down his life, love one another has a whole new meaning. But, hold on, Jesus wasn’t finished. He keeps going and take a deep breath because this isn’t easy to hear. John tells us in verse 35 that Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”. Direct quotes, my friends from the son of God. People will not see Jesus in you by the bumper sticker on your car or your post on social media. No one will see Jesus in you by the way that you vote or how loudly you state your positions on the pandemic. People will see Jesus in you by the way you love your neighbor…period.
This kind of love, the love that was displayed on the cross, was made for times such as this. This love turns the other cheek and fights for the marginalized. This love sacrifices opinions and searches for truth. This love chooses humanity even if it means you will be misunderstood. This love is kind to a waitress and patient with the school board. This love is not rude or irritable when others disagree. This love bears all things, hopes all things and endures all things (1 Corinthians 13).
I’ll admit, living this kind of love isn’t easy. It feels like a risky and uncertain road, one that I’ll be honest, I’ve considered abandoning over the last year. That may just be the most vulnerable statement I’ve ever written. More than once, I’ve looked at my husband and said, “I can’t do this…I can’t fight a war in the hospital and a war everywhere else too. I can’t do this…I have nothing left”. I’ve tried to convince him to sale everything we own and move to a remote location off the grid where no one can find us. He’s almost caved a few times, but then we’d likely have to give up Mexican food and we change our minds. Furthermore, every time, just when I’m about to give up, I’m reminded of a time when I’ve been shown extraordinary love, proving to me that this love will chase you down.
You see, there is more to the story of the scooter and jogging suits. Y’all I had no idea how to ride that scooter…no balance. I fell multiple times that Christmas day, skinned my knees and ripped a hole in more than one pair of jogging pants. The adults in my life patched me up, got me a new pair of brand new jogging pant and cheered me on over and over again. My aunt even hunted down thread that matched my new peach colored pants and off I went to fall again. No one took the scooter away, which seems like a very logical thing to do. Why? They knew that I needed to ride the scooter so they did what needed to be done.
As crazy as it may seem, this story reminds me of how patient God has been with me this year. You see, God knew that we would need extraordinary love, so he gave extraordinary love. He knew what we would need in times such as this. And, though this road is hard and seems risky, it’s really the most certain thing in my life because His Love, This Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13).
Y’all, I’ve missed the mark a few times this year and I’m sure you have too, but the good news is that perfection is not required. He just keeps picking me up, patching me up, and cheering me on, because He knows that I can do this…we can do this. Don’t give up! This love once changed the world and I’m convinced it can do it again.
***photo from Upsplash.com