A few years ago, my father shared his experience of doing his own laundry for one of the first times in his life. After having finished some intense yard work and needing to prepare for his Saturday evening activities, he trudged into the utility room, began the washer, and threw his clothes in it. Twenty minutes later, after showering and redressing, he realized he could not locate his wallet nor his keys. “Oh no!” he suddenly shouted. Dashing to the utility room and yanking open the washer, he searched through the arm-depth water only to locate…an empty, leather wallet. For the next several minutes, he continuously reached into the warm soap suds and retrieved his keys, driver’s license, individual dollar bills, photographs, and an array of other objects, placing them on a towel to air dry. In order to quicken the drying process, he even threw his wallet into the dryer!
Having laughed many times over this incident, it also raised the following question: How do we respond to chaos? Some of us depend on humor—lightening the heaviness of the situation to ease the tension. We tease each other and laugh together over our own experiences to release the stress of providing care in life-and-death situations on a regular basis. Some require time alone to reflect on the similarities of their lives with the patients’ and how their care impacts those whom they serve. This may involve sitting in silence, journaling, reading, or even praying. Some lean towards coping through conversation, receiving the assurance from their colleagues regarding the care they offered during the crisis.
While the responses to these critical moments may vary from one individual to another, chaos does allow all of us to do one thing—that is, to display characteristics of our true selves to the rest of our team. It reveals the take-charge personalities when a patient is coding. It points out those who truly possess the skill of prioritizing and delegating when the medical world places simultaneous demands for our patients. Chaos offers moments of creativity when a person may have to transfer a patient alone along with all the personal belongings.
The author Henry Miller states: “Chaos is the score upon which reality is written.” Thus, the reality for us is that we do serve in an area that does have a great deal of chaos at times. Embrace these moments, though. Allow yourselves to demonstrate your differing gifts and abilities during these hectic periods, for our differences bind us together into an effective team, and no matter the outcome, may you always know that the peace of the Lord will accompany you to the end.