Imagine that you are about ready to go on a ropes course. Standing at the bottom of a thirty foot wall, you observe the irregular-shaped rocks that are sporadically dispersed along the upward journey. Overwhelmed with anxiety and fear, you mutter, “I’m not sure about this. I don’t think I can make it.” The guide hands you a helmet which you reluctantly place upon your head, securing the strap tightly beneath your chin. Next, you slowly step into a harness that you tightly wrap around your upper thighs, hips, and waist and fasten yourself with a metal hook to the rope that streams upward parallel to the wall. After making the necessary preparations to serve as the “anchor” below, the guide affirmatively says, “All right; it’s time. Let’s do this together.” You approach the wall and then place one hand and one foot each on a rock while reaching with the opposite hand to grasp a rock above your head. After about five minutes of the climbing process, you pause to take a momentary break. Below, the guide hollers, “You’re doing great! You’re about halfway there.” You glance upward and proceed to climb again. Shortly thereafter, you find yourself standing atop the wall, gazing down as well as to the scenery surrounding you at eye level. Feeling a sense of perseverance, you realized you were able to accomplish your goal!
Now, imagine climbing that same wall without the proper equipment and no wisdom or encouragement from the guide. You probably would not be able to do it, would you? At least not safely, that is. This is what some, if not many, of our patients and families experience right when they enter through our doors. Feelings of anxiety, despair, hopelessness, and discouragement. However, along with the appropriate treatment for our patients and families from each of you as well as with your genuine caring, encouraging presence, you can establish a safe, comfortable environment where patients and their loved ones may process and endure the crises that they are encountering.
Speaking from a personal note here, I can testify to the truth of the mixed emotions that arise within our patients and their loved ones. Exactly three weeks ago today, along with my family, I walked through the doors of our hospital not as a chaplain but as a patient to undergo foot surgery—the fourteenth operation of my lifetime. With each and every procedure I have undergone, my family and I all voiced statements expressing nervousness and anxiety about what is soon to occur and the future thereafter. Will the surgery go smoothly and be successful? What risks are involved? What will the recovery process be like afterwards, and how will this affect my daily living? Fortunately, thanks to the staff here as well as to the support of my family and friends, I have been able to start working towards “getting back on my feet” again.
So, my challenge to each of you is that, as our patients and their loved ones strive toward establishing some sort of normalcy in their lives again, may you serve as a positive influence in their healing process. May the Lord work through each of you individually in implementing your own gifts and knowledge, so we may all serve as anchors with assisting our patients and their families in reaching the tops of the walls they face!
Lord, as we reflect on those whom we have cared for, give us the necessary wisdom, words, attitudes, and resources to continue to best care for those whom we interact with on a daily basis. Guide us as we attempt to serve as a guide to others through their healing processes. In Your precious name, Amen.