It’s always something…

Gilda Radner, from Wikimedia Commons
Gilda Radner, from Wikimedia Commons

“It’s always something,” is one of my mantras as I continue to adjust to living a triple part-time life…and I simply am going to have to accept there will always be encroachments of the other two roles in my life in the one I am in, during the present moment.  So the mantra becomes something a little more like “It’s always something, and, furthermore, there’s always gonna be something.”  Yet there is still the reactive moment of irritation when I see a call on my phone from the hospital operator back home when I’m on my CPE rotation, or the call from someone at church when I am trying to study for my Old Testament class.

I recently resorted to one of my old tricks to keep my embryonic priestly self in the present moment.  All my life, I’ve always loved banded collar shirts instead of pointed collars (I think it’s an Old West sort of thing.)  But usually I wear them with the top button open.  My late former spiritual director several years ago, suggested I do a 30 day experiment.  He told me to button the top button, as a reminder I am growing into a priestly self.  I discovered I was just a tiny bit more thoughtful, a little less reactive, and a LOT more circumspect when I felt that top button closed.  I’ve made sure at CPE and at work I’m wearing a banded collar shirt.  When I feel stressed, I button the top button.  Don’t ask me how it works, but it works.  I am still not always perfect, but I’m better than when I don’t do this.

In the middle of all this mess, there is still grace.  I had an odd grace this week on CPE.  I discovered that, right out of the box, I’m actually pretty good at working deaths.  Now, mostly, that’s because I am no stranger to “death paperwork”–it is amazingly similar to the kinds of paperwork I had to do as a resident on the autopsy service.  The biggest hurdle has been getting used to the EMR at the CPE hospital.  What my innate understanding of the paperwork has done is given me room to focus on the family of the deceased rather than the paperwork.

Something I recently saw in Forward Day by Day caught my eye:

I confessed to a colleague once about the anxiety that hits me when I receive an urgent call, beseeching me for pastoral care. So often, my first internal response is one of anxiety: Will I be able to help? Can I make a difference? Will I get it right? Will I meet their expectations?

Instead of radiating empathy, I succumb to performance anxiety. And Paul’s admonition (NB: 1 Corinthians 14:12. “So with yourselves; since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church,”) becomes my prayer, redirecting my energies outward, deflecting my insecurity, and diverting my self-gratification. When my energies realign toward building up of the body of Christ, I can get out of the way, and God can use me effectively.

Amen, and amen!

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