Why Patients Care About My Faith

Praying HandsIn just the past couple weeks I have been almost surprised by how many patients of mine have asked to talk about matters of faith. As a doctor I am privileged to touch people’s lives at very vulnerable times, and it’s at those times where faith makes a significant difference.

Here are a few vignettes:

  • A woman facing challenging hormonal problems says, “I looked at your online profile, and I’m glad you’re a minister also. I want to be able to talk about those things too.”
  • A couple facing long-term infertility wrestling with whether God would look kindly on their use of fertility treatment, or whether they should accept childlessness as God’s will for them.
  • A patient needing an urgent C-section says, “We prayed that the doctor who would deliver our baby would be a believer too. You are an answer to prayer.”
  • A woman who is newly pregnant, feeling guilty about her previous abortion and wondering whether God would punish her by not allowing this pregnancy to continue.

What is it these patients are looking for from me? Why do they bring up spiritual matters? What do they need?

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Interruptions ARE Your Job

Girl Holding Out PhoneLook for the interruptions: they are your job security!

If you work with people in any capacity, expect to be interrupted. The only people who are not interrupted are hermits and prison inmates. You and I should be thankful for interruptions.

That’s not always an easy concept to understand. You want to be productive. Interruptions break your train of thought, and your train of activity. Wouldn’t it be easier if “they” just stayed away?!

But think of these situations where interruptions are the whole reason your “job” exists:

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Seeing You from God’s Point of View

Man Pointing to WatchWe’re a fast-food, instant-information, entertainment-on-demand society. We’re not used to waiting. And we can get rather irritated when we have to do so.

Whole industries have formed based on helping us do things faster, as if that were the measure of success. We are so bent on knowing and doing NOW that we will pay extra – a lot extra – for instant news, instant meals, instant pain relief, “instant” transportation, even “instant” love. We may know that the best wine is aged a long time, but we accept that fact only reluctantly.

What does “a long time” mean to you?

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The Journey From Being Squeezed to Thriving

Pressure GaugeWe don’t like being squeezed! Just the thought of it is uncomfortable. And yet it’s the only way we know what’s truly inside of us. (For the “Squeezed” story, see “What Changes You?”)

What happens when we get squeezed? Our first reaction is usually to cry something like, “That’s not fair!” “Why me?”

When some people get squeezed they become bitter, angry, and isolated. And other people take those times of being squeezed and leverage them into an opportunity for growth. What makes the difference? What is it that determines whether one’s heart becomes softened and matured, or hardened and brittle? (Yes, I do believe you can choose which outcome happens to you.)

A few of you shared bits of your own stories of being squeezed that I’ve included here.

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Fast Food or Gourmet Meals – for the Soul

HamburgersThe average American eats fast food several times a week. Most of us realize that fast food is much less healthy than most food prepared and eaten at home. But with our love of convenience, our fast-paced lifestyle, and the lure of hyper-palatable food we have become believers – and consumers.

We love fast food in other areas of our lives as well. We love entertainment that’s ready-made, internet-produced intimate relationships, and “drive-through breakthroughs” in our spiritual life. We are running so fast that the real hungers we struggle with often get no nourishing food at all. Perhaps that’s one reason so many of us struggle with addictions: we are desperately trying to feed our hungers with food that does not satisfy.

Fast food provides a quick fix for an empty stomach, but the quality of nourishment and the level of satisfaction it provides are very small. A few hours later you’ll be craving food again.

On the other hand, a tasty and healthy meal you and your family look forward to takes longer to prepare, but is much more satisfying, not to mention nourishing.

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