“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Hospital reflections

I just spent 24 hours in the hospital. My experience was so positive, I began to reflect on it as a model, perhaps a metaphor for how the church should be. I began at the emergency room. It was a smaller hospital in Southern Florida. The way things worked out, I was there at a time that wasn't very busy. The juvenile floor had staffing so after my procedure (appendectomy), I recovered there.

As I received the care I did, I felt so welcomed. The staff were extraordinarily patient with me and so friendly. In spite of my needs, they were non-judgemental and supportive of me. They were anxious to be helpful and even though I was only there briefly, they repeatedly told me how they wanted me to be well, down to a note on a white board in front of my bed that said, "we want you to get well." For that 24 hours, I was separated from the world, the larger society, but the plan was only to make me well and send me out again at my physical best. Overall, they were all about meeting my needs as their patient and nothing seemed to be too much trouble.

Now I am not one who has spent much time in the hospital, but I honestly, really didnt want to leave. A woman from food services had come by to tell me about her home made beef stew and biscuits for dinner which sounded fabulous and when I was told I would be released after lunch I was actually a little disappointed. I will also tell you I was surprised at my feelings. Who would be disappointed about being released from the hospital? I seriously wanted to stay a little longer to have the stew and because everyone was so nice.

Jesus in confronting the Pharisees in Mark 2:17 said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners." I don't think I would be taking this metaphor too far in asking, "What if the church were like my hospital experience?" What if people who are sick with sin would be welcomed as I was. What if people who were sick from the experience of negative social treatment were welcomed as I was. It should be a place where people go and feel the kinds of things I felt.

At the event I was attending, there were people I know, who have walked away from their faith. They are sick in a way, and both don't know it and perhaps havent felt the healing atmosphere I felt at the hospital, at a church. That they would walk away is not a wise decision on their part. If only the church could be as irrestible as my care givers.

Seriously, I was a man in the hospital who had his emergency addressed. I was on my way back to health but didn't want to leave those who were the agents of my healing. God bless my care givers at the hospital! But God help his church to bless people as I was blessed, within the confines of his church. God teach us how to be like that.



Unknown said...

This is in response to your blog entry on Wednesday October 28, 2015 called Hospital Reflections. This was by far the best blog entry that I came across while searching through mainly because this is the one that I can identify with the most. I completely agree with everything you wrote and said and it is so refreshing that there are still places and communities that truly do care and want what is best for not only themselves but for others.
After graduating from college with my Bachelors degree I spent the next 3 years playing professional basketball in Hamburg Germany. I minimally knew parts of the language to survive for food, directions, and common greetings, with a few sentences in conversation. But I had no ability to fully communicate (luckily Germans are required to take 9 years of English in school). I had a handful of close friends, but that was about it. Other then that I was very much alone and had a somewhat isolated feeling. Of course there are fans and the club that like me and care for me but more as a business side because I was good at a sport and scoring sports. The point to all of this was I tore my rotator cuff in a game and required surgery last February and decided to have it done in Germany because not only have I heard that they have very advanced methods, but more importantly because it was free and part of my contract and it was a must to do it rather than pay a lot of money in America.
I was very nervous and had anxiety because I was having somewhat of a major surgery with not much communication and the fact that I am a type 1 diabetic I wanted to make sure the staff was fully aware of my situation. It is in many ways similar to a disabled person in life with low levels of communication but still want you to be aware of their situation. Anyways the staff was unbelievable with how well they treated me and to make sure every need was met. They brought in translators, proper dietitians to monitor my blood sugar (which I am pretty good at anyways but was still amazing), physical therapist over the next weeks to make sure I was making proper progress. They could have easily realized that next season I would be in another country playing and just gave me the minimum treatment by law and moved on, but they didn’t. The patience they showed was so amazing; especially with me being alone with no family around or anyone to fully understand my views either. In Germany, with a major surgery like I had, it is required to stay in the hospital for at least 1 week before returning to the house. That week I was treated so great and felt so much that the people actually cared about my well being. It is very similar to your blog post. I could go on and on about all the details, but you get the point.
The overall message was that it was an eye-opening experience about the proper way to treat people, even when they are different or have special needs. It was so inspiring that it had an influence that I could and should do that with my life. Not just in teaching or the medical field, but just showing everyone interest and give time to get to know people and learn from all people. What was such a nervous and somewhat scary feeling before going to surgery, turned out to be a great lesson learned on the proper way to handle people. Your blog gave me flashbacks of my time in the hospital 9-10 months ago.

Unknown said...

December 2, 2015

In response to this post, I agree with what you wrote about the church needing to be more like a hospital. At least, more like the hospital that gave you such great care. It makes sense when aligned with Jesus's words about the sick needing a doctor. I have heard pastors say more than once that the church does not exist to serve the righteous, rather the church exists to serve all of the broken sinners. Deep down, all of us Christians understand that sinners need healing. If our church were more like that hospital, then more people would come with their open wounds and broken lives.
I have only been to a hospital once in my life. I went for a very simple quick surgery and I was under anesthesia for almost all it. Reflecting back now though, I do remember how kind the nurses were and how much they reassured me that I would be fine. I also remember right before surgery, the anesthesiologist came a talked to me about how the anesthesia worked and the risks that were involved. She was honest with me about the fact that there was a chance, slim as it was, that something could go very wrong and I would end up severely hurt. Instead of scaring me, her honesty gained more of my trust in her and reassured me that everything would be fine.
I feel like the church could also be more like that doctor to the "sick." When we care for people that are hurt or in need of salvation, we have to remain honest and competent in our abilities through God. It is through honesty, in some ways, that will reassure people that when they choose to trust in Jesus and when they come to the church for healing, they do not have to fear.
Of course, we also need to be more like the nurses and staff at the hospital in Florida, attentive, kind, hospitable, competent, quick to show kindness and caring.