Friday, February 21, 2014

Another post on empathy-- because I'm a slow learner

      Much as I'd like, I cannot do much to change the beliefs, assumptions, and thought processes of the patients that come into the Emergency Department or the clinic. Patient after patient over the past two weeks have vividly revealed to me the importance of uncovering a patient's true expectations. Even though I may have done the right thing from a purely medical standpoint, patients have sometimes been dissatisfied because I have failed to meet their expectations in some way. As physicians, we obviously should not always give patients what they want-- but we should endeavor to acknowledge, respect, and address their underlying concerns. This can only be done well when we possess true empathy, for it is only with empathy that we can see a thing from another's perspective. That is what we should all endeavor to have in ever-growing quantities, and it is why we should continually seek to catch fresh glimpses of the "Man of Sorrows" whose whole life was a perfect portrait of other-directedness.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday Repentance

      God speaks in the quiet of a Sunday morning, whispering truths about my life and the lives of others. I recognize a need in myself, a need for more empathy-- to see life through the lens of others. To be a better friend, leader, brother, son, healer, colleague.

      For the Christian, prayer is the time to gain this perspective. Constant prayer is how we maintain it. If we are prayerful throughout the day, the Holy Spirit will cause our soul and spirit to see and care about the thoughts, feelings, and needs of others. On Sunday mornings, I'm especially reminded of the love of Jesus. This helps me see my deficiencies as symptoms of deeper spiritual bankruptcy, not merely as character flaws, and also to be reminded of our perfect example of empathic, selfless, furious love. Prayer and corporate worship brings my thoughts, emotions, and will in line with God's, and thereby has the power to multiply my emotional wealth.
      I have a friend who made a prayer guide for our house church this week. I didn't do a great job of sticking to it, but one thing that stood out was yesterday's injunction to pray for each member of house church, specifically regarding our spiritual gifts. As we've thought about our gifts together, it's helped me see strongholds in my own heart and the hearts of others close to me. Few things are more important than praying to break down the strongholds of sin in our hearts with the overwhelming grace of God.
      Father, be gracious to us. Our spiritual weakness stems from prayerless faithlessness. Forgive us. As you drew near to the Israelites when they repented, make your Presence known in our lives today as we serve you and love your people. We praise you that you are always faithful to forgive and heal. You never forsake us. Help us long to never forsake you.