Well, now that I have moved into our new house on the farm, and we are mostly unpacked. And, I have officially changed jobs – instead of being a full time self employed family doc that works in an office making my own hospital rounds, nursing home rounds, taking call, and making home visits; now I work full time for an emergency management company and cover the Emergency room in my hometown hospital. Maybe, I can get back into the habit of blogging. It’s really hard to blog or be active in any kind of social media when your computer is in about six pieces and you have no Internet connection.
It has been a difficult year for us. I have been told over a hundred times that building a home is the hardest time a married couple will have, and although Brian and I have not slept in separate rooms or had any terrible fights it has been fretful at times. Add to that my decision to change jobs and you can imaging how rough this has been. So, as someone who has known The Lord from a young age this has been a year of trials for me.
Now first off, I am not – nor do I ever stress to be – anything close to perfect. I use curse words much more often than I should. I watch movies that I shouldn’t. I even catch myself gossiping when I know that is wrong. I am driven and expect everyone I work with to work as hard and with as much drive as I do, because people’s lives depend on it. So, like David before The Lord in Psalms
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Psalms 51:1-3 KJV
And, if you ask those that know me I am sure they can tell you many more of my sins and faults, but as a child of a loving father in faith I am not afraid to admit them and ask for help. Being adult enough to admit these faults has been a new thing for me this year. Also, these admissions have helped me in my struggle with our religion. Now, most people would question me here on what is the difference between faith and religion, as they should. See, I was raised in a different religion than the church where I now worship, but this is the adult intelligent choice I have made for my family. So, I struggle with minor points of religious doctrine.
But dealing as a doctor with people of all faith and of none, and of all religions and of none, I cannot afford to be narrow minded in how I interact with patients in regards to how they relay their concerns of faith. Whether I am speaking with an elderly patient who has enough faith and comfort in her religion to speak about advance care plans with the peace of one facing the end of her life as one going to meet an old friend who promises a release from pain and suffering, to the conversation with a grieving family member asking “why me – Why would God take this thing, or person, or whatever – what did I do to deserve this?” Speaking with patients about Christian faith is at least something I have some background in. Understanding the peace that can pass understanding, and personally being able to relay that knowing the answer to “why God” may never come and may be not for us as children of God to know.
But where I struggle as a physician, dealing with crisis of faith even in my new job, when I “loose my heart of a servant” is when I am trying to help families of different faith ideologies or of no faith at all. See, I have my faith, but the biggest part of my job is not forcing my faith, morals, or any aspect of my personal belief systems onto a patient. So, not knowing anything about Wicca (for example) or the religious rites of Native American tribes, how do I not offend by inserting my Christian beliefs? How do you help when you don’t where know to start?
Wanting to help and be a supportive physician, whether it’s as a family doctor of ten years or your emergency room doctor of twenty minutes – I want to think that there is a way and a time for concerns for a physician’s faith and for that of their patients.
I realize that patient’s faith may not be as big an issue in other parts of the country but here in Tennessee, where I live, faith is a huge part of patient’s lives. There are still families that don’t speak to certain members over issues of faith, issues of sexuality, or even issues of different religions. I wish I had had more formal training in how to handle these issues that are so deeply personal to my patient’s lives, so I felt more at home in this area, but I am glad that through my own faith in my Lord I am finally able to try to handle this complex minefield of faith.