As you may have read by my last post, this rash of kids killing themselves because of bullying has really affected me. Not just me, but my wife, and my oldest son, especially. The three of us have talked about it much lately. Also, many of you reading this may know we lost two babies before Emma. (Lillianna and Sarah). That was a devastating loss not just for me, my wife, and kids, but for our family and friends as well. My family has experienced loss. A few of my cousins died as children. All of my birth grandparents have died. (It's amazing, God saw fit to meet that need by blessing me with another grandmother- Grandma Barb) We face mortality everyday with my father's failing health. You'd think that would be enough to make me, or everyone in my family for that matter, understand the value of life. I hate this about myself, but sometimes, I still take it for granted.
It's quite easy to do-losing touch with people close to you, mistreating those close to you, disregarding or disrespecting people we come in contact with everyday, and the list goes on. All of these ways point to one thing- not respecting the sanctity of life. Not loving others, for no other reason than they are created, as you were, by God. I think of how many opportunities to spend time with my family I've missed. How many times I could have supported them a little more, or spent a little more time with them. Instead of watching TV, I could have played a game, or went for a walk with them. As my youngest son turns 8, and my baby turns 2, I am ever more aware of how time is flying by. When it comes to my father, I wonder, have I truly shown him I love him? Do the people who I value and love the most, know that? Does my wife know how much she has changed my life? Do my kids know how much of a blessing they are to me?
I guess I am thinking about this a lot today because of work. I work at a Dialysis clinic. I initiate, monitor, and complete life saving treatments for patients who would die if this were not available to them. Aside from the tasks, I talk with the patients, listen to their complaints, fears, stresses, and sometimes, they tend to take it out on us. It gets stressful at times. It can be emotionally draining, dealing with needy people day in and day out. Also, in a high stress environment, there is also drama, as is the case anywhere. It kind of caught up to me this week, and especially today. As I was discussing the stress and aggravation with my wife, I was overcome with such a feeling of guilt. As I thought about this throughout the evening, Two things occurred to me. One, I chose this line of work, and two, how dare I take for granted, the fact that I have these patients lives in my hands, every treatment. It was enough to almost bring me to tears. I have the privilege, the honor, the blessing, to help others preserve their life, the very thing I take for granted almost every day. Then I started thinking about the petty things at work that aggravate me. And that is what they are, petty. While I am stressed about stupid, petty issues, my patients are stressed about life. How are they going to afford their meds? What about their rent, or mortgage, since most of them can't work? As a matter of fact, my parents included, most of these patients have lost everything.
I have started to address some of this lately. If I am working on projects around the house, I get the kids involved. Not exactly fun, but at least we are spending time together. We have been just having fun, playing games more often. ( Last Friday, we had a three hour game of monopoly!) I've made an effort to re-connect with people. Last Saturday, I went on a date with my grandma Barb. We went to the Casino, had dinner. Had great conversations the ride there and back. It was wonderful. I spent the whole night with my dad last time he was in the hospital. Just being there. I need to get better at verbalizing these feelings to those closest to me, but hey, it's a work in progress!
And as for work, I am truly resolving to never again forget exactly what it is my job does. Not for greatness, not for recognition. It is actually pretty humbling sometimes, especially the patient care part. Before I get agitated about petty things, I am going to remember the huge things my patients deal with every day. An extra minute, some kind words, some encouragement-that is what I will focus on. I truly believe it is an honor to do this kind of work, now my attitude has to reflect that.
Life is precious. We all have experienced loss. We all have opportunities to show others that their life matters. For me, I believe my work, my family, the losses and struggles we have had in our lives, are for a purpose. I think God has used all of it to help me understand the value of life, and the role we all have in affirming that in others. It seems to me I was born for such a time as this.