3 Things that are NOT Small Stuff

Funeral FlowersRule Number 1: Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Rule Number 2: It’s ALL small stuff!

There are very few things in life worthy of being excluded from the “small stuff.”

We were reminded of this today when we heard from a friend of ours that his father had passed away this morning. For Peter, his life on this earth is over. For Steve, the long waits at the hospital, the fighting to arrange insurance coverage, the conversations with doctors, the late-night trips to the ER, the frustrations with family members over details – all that is over too. And suddenly all those pesky problems certainly feel like comparatively “small stuff!”

Steve had a chance to tell his father Goodbye. He knows his father was right with God, and he has a strong faith himself. None of that lessens the pain, but it does limit the regrets. And for the rest of us, seeing someone come to the end of life here does help put everything else in perspective.

In the grand scheme of things, what’s NOT small stuff? A few suggestions:

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Being REAL or Being Helpful

Two Girls Sharing SecretsDo I share my feelings completely? ALL the time? Will it hurt other people if I do? If I don’t, will keeping secrets hurt me – or them? If I know this, shouldn’t I share the information?

Some people naturally share everything they hear or know or feel. Others have developed the habit of keeping everything to themselves. Here’s a truth to ponder: once you tell someone something, you can’t “untell” it. Apologies can help if you’ve said something that is harmful, but how much better to never tell something that causes pain in the first place. It may not always be easy to know whether sharing certain information is wise or not.

Here are a few examples of where “keeping secrets” is actually a good thing:

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The Fragility of Trust

The Fragility of Trust

Trust takes a long time to build. And it can be lost in a moment. The fragility of trust is amazing.

Sitting in the airport not long ago, I couldn’t help overhearing one side of a phone conversation. A tall, good-looking man, about 30, was on his cell-phone – sobbing. He seemed oblivious to the crowd around him, and made no effort to keep others from hearing his conversation. He was obviously speaking with the lady in his life, pleading with her to “work things out.” The pain in his voice and his shameless tears almost made those of us nearby uncomfortable: we were witnessing a young man in real torment.

Trying to piece things together, this young man was apparently in the middle of a business trip. In the past he had done something to break trust with his wife, perhaps an affair, or drinking too much. While on this trip something had happened to re-open that old wound – perhaps he had not “checked in” at the expected time. She was angry. He was hurt. Each was accusing the other. It was tragic, and incredibly painful.

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5 Times to NOT Care What Anyone Thinks

5 Times to NOT Care What Anyone Thinks

Happy FarmerI might not say it in quite those words, but it’s really true: “I don’t care what you think!” In fact it HAS to be true, or I’m no good to you or anybody else.

For a people-pleasing person like me, that conclusion is a hard one to come to. I learned very well how to please professors, bosses, and other superiors. I learned how to read the reaction of patients and respond in ways that they could understand. Most people liked me.

But I was comparatively useless.

It’s my unique understanding that makes me most valuable. And it’s YOUR unique life experience and perspective that someone else – or the world – needs. If you care too much what others think of you, your ideas, or your way of doing things, you won’t be any good to anyone.

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The Bad (or Good) News about STDs

Fearful WomanThere’s one part of my job as an OB-Gyn physician that I dread. And I’ve had to do it several times in the last two weeks.

I dread telling a woman she has just been diagnosed with an STD.

Within just the past few days I’ve had to address HIV, HPV, herpes, and chlamydia. There’s just no easy way to tell someone that kind of news. The tears, the physical distress, the fear, often the shame, in a woman’s face just tears at my heart.

“I never thought this would happen to me.” “I thought I was being careful.” “Will this stop me from having children in the future?” “How am I going to tell my partner?”

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